This week's guest blogger, Gretel Hallet, trained to be a Chocolate Fairy last year and is running workshops in East Anglia. If you live in the area and would like to attend a Beyond Chocolate course, Gretel would love to hear from you! Meet Gretel.
An evening with Gok Wan! How many women would turn that down? Certainly not me. I saw the advert in my local paper. Gok was coming to Norwich to launch his new book: Through Thick and Thin: My Autobiography and there was to be a dinner and a chance to see Gok at Norwich City Football Ground (apparently he’s a friend of Delia’s and she invited him!).
So, along we went that night, me and my friend, Julie.
The invitations said ‘smart casual’ and it was interesting to see the variations on that theme when we arrived. There were literally hundreds of women at the venue (and a few men, but a very few) and the room was buzzing with excitement.
Gok didn’t keep us waiting; he appeared immediately and walked through all the tables to say hello to everyone before arriving at the stage. I could really understand, after seeing him in person, how he managed to persuade those women to get their kit off! I think I would do if he asked! After the dinner, he took questions.
Are you really gay? Someone asked wistfully.
How do I cope with a post-baby body? Several women wanted to know.
What should I wear for an important job interview?
Am I wearing the right size bra? (This caused huge excitement when Gok invited the questioner onto the stage and proceeded to check whether she was wearing the right size bra to the obvious envy of the (male) compere!)
Throughout the evening, Gok was warm, open, honest and totally inclusive. Every woman there was made to feel that she was wonderful just as she is; because she’s a woman and that is something to celebrate.
Gok is a wonderful ambassador for the Beyond Chocolate principle, ‘Own Your Body’. He accepts that every woman’s shape and size is her own and something to be celebrated for her femininity. However, Gok is no stranger to body image issues. As the book recounts, Gok struggled with his self-image for many years, following bullying at school and weight gain, which he dealt with in a way that left him with an eating disorder that he’s only now able to talk about and write about in the book.
Body image is something that many women struggle with too. We are surrounded by images of ‘perfection’ (although if you go back a few decades, the images of ‘perfection’ are very different) and information about how we can change our weight, shape, size, either by dieting or by surgery. We are made to feel that unless we constantly strive to be other than what we are, something is wrong with us.
People like Gok remind us that this just isn’t true and that we can celebrate being ourselves just as we are.