SAVAGE Journal: Territories Print Edition

The below article – Our Bodies – was published in the seventh print edition of SAVAGE Journal, TerritoriesAs President, I contributed to the creative direction, editing and curating of this issue. You can read the full issue here.

TW: sexual assault, sexual misconduct

Our Bodies Territories 1our bodies territories 2our bodies territories 3The article introduces the social initiative I am co-founder of; you can learn more about Our Bodies here. Look out for more information coming soon!

Our Bodies: Sexual assault & harassment at UCL

TW: sexual assault

Every day, more stories of sexual assault and harassment surface and more people suffer at the hands of this epidemic. This goes beyond Hollywood, it happens everywhere, and our university campuses are no exception. In my first year at university, I was sexually assaulted by someone I had previously considered a friend. This wasn’t the first time I had experienced sexual violence, nor the last, but it is the moment that has stayed with me. I could write a million words about the effect this has had on me – and hopefully at some point I will – but for now the words escape me. As survivors, we are silenced during the event and in the aftermath; our agency is taken away. This week, we are launching a new photo series on SAVAGE Journal called Our Bodies, which aims to give agency back to survivors by offering them the chance to tell their story in their own words and be believed. If you would like to share your story, know that it is on your terms. If you want to remain anonymous, you can. If you want to be photographed, you can. These are our bodies, our survival, our stories and our voices. We will not be silenced anymore.

In the next few weeks, we will also be hosting a panel discussion in collaboration with The Cheese Grater (another of UCL’s student magazines), looking at the policies currently in place and asking what more the university could be doing to support survivors and to prevent this behaviour from manifesting in the first place. Further details will be announced on the Facebook event soon.

If you are a current or former student of UCL and would like to share your story on Our Bodies, you can email or direct message the Instagram account (@_ourbodies_).

Life in plastic, not so fantastic…

My problem, I have discovered, is that I’m fickle. I am forever tipping the balance between a care-free “eat when you’re hungry until you’re full” attitude and a desire (starved of sense) to be thought of as the thinnest in the group. I get tempted time again by the chocolate gorged dessert and whilst I relish it in the moment, the guilt eventually catches up. But if I don’t order dessert…well, I feel even worse for having succumbed to the calorie-conscious monster inside of me and I pine for the oozing chocolate I missed out on. However the recent rise of the “Barbie waist” has made me realise once and for all that a hand span waist disproportionate to the rest of the body is about as attractive as the prospect of wearing a double corset for three months in order to achieve it. I’m not saying there’s something wrong with trying to lose weight to gain confidence, I’m merely stating that a life spent calculating calories and favouring a lifetime of slim hips over a delicious moment on the lips is a life misspent.
As for Barbie, she’s hardly a role model for the perfect figure; she’s made of plastic and honestly, her life isn’t so fantastic. If Barbie were a real person, she wouldn’t actually be able to stand up: her ankles are too thin, her chest is so big it would topple her over and her waist is the size of an average 12 year old.
It’s only natural that people would strive for self improvement, but it seems that today’s society has established an ultimatum for the women it swallows whole – there is no healthy middle ground, merely a constant stream of criticism and emphasis on the super-fat vs super-skinny: a choice between only starvation or greed. And the extremities become more severe each day. Obesity has doubled in the last twenty five years alone in the UK and teenage eating disorders are growing alarmingly inevitable. The pressure to encapsulate society’s vision of perfection has proved too much for several of my friends, who have at a young age, already experienced the turmoil of anorexia. Having witnessed that, I can safely say I would not wish it upon my worst enemy. It’s a cliche yes, but I’ve found that you are at you’re healthiest and happiest when you eat what you want and follow the rules that have almost become cliches to my generation: eat your five a day, exercise, maintain a balanced diet and don’t starve yourself of the nutrients you need to grow.
I know it’s easier said than done. Of course it is. But with the measures modern women will go to becoming more extreme -and potentially harmful- with each passing day, it is vital that charities such as BEAT have the support they need in their fight against eating disorders and the role the media play in society’s perception of the perfect body.
UPDATE: I was shocked to see these mannequins in Topshop the week after I posted this. The message this sends is hardly a positive or healthy one.