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  • ABC talks Gender (Dis)parity in Jazz 100

    By Jake Amy, Hugh Heller, Emma Volard and Ella Clair “Diversity is central to ABC Jazz,” says content manager Toby Chadd, yet only 22.22% of audience favourites in this weekend’s Jazz 100 were female. Vocalists not included, that number dropped substantially to a dismal 7.25%. ABC suggested 536 artists to voters, drawing from “a range of sources including jazz history, previous information on audience favourites and album releases/airplay”, with a meagre 16.82% of those artists being women. Similar to other top 100 countdowns, these figures seem to ignore a plethora of female musicians who are of equal standard to their male counterparts. At what point do we stop accepting inequalities as they are and start to make sustainable change? “It’s a sad reality that gender parity isn’t possible when compiling a long list of 500 artists that are best-known to audiences”, says Chadd. “When it comes to gender diversity, the Jazz 100 is a survey of where we are now rather than where we would like to be.” Listen to the female artists from ABC's Jazz 100 here Jazz has historically been a male-dominated artform. The lack of women musicians in the Jazz 100 is a symptom of a systemic issue, which is the lack of female visibility in jazz music. However, whilst the top 100 jazz artists may indeed be current audience favourites, ABC Jazz has the facility to challenge the historical dominance of males in jazz by including more women artists in their day-to-day programming. APRA award winner Lior Attar believes there would be a “greater appreciation of music and culture” if audiences were “repeatedly exposed” to marginalised music artists. “The aim of the Jazz 100 is to celebrate the favourite jazz artists of all time, as voted by Australian audiences,” says Chadd. “We did include an option within the voting mechanism for the audience to nominate artists who weren’t on the [voting] list, ensuring that the final 100 isn’t limited to those on the long list.” 0% of the Jazz 100 included additional artist nominations. When asked how ABC Jazz have combated historical gender inequalities, Chadd stated, “If anything, the historical gender imbalance highlighted here reinforces our commitment to making a difference in this space. To a great extent, a radio station like ABC Jazz depends on the music that has already been recorded – the established jazz ‘canon’. But there are ways in which we can facilitate change, particularly in commissioning new recordings. Over 50% of the commissions under the ABC’s recent Fresh Start Fund, for instance, were from female artists. We also seek to support the work of the new generation of Australian artists: earlier this year, we announced the inaugural ABC Jazz Scholarship and we regularly program new releases by emerging musicians. We track gender balance in our playlists and look to increase that incrementally over time – including through focussing on acquiring new and old recordings from around the world featuring diverse performers.” Chadd added that if there was another Jazz 100 in “10 years time”, ABC Jazz would love to have introduced their audience to a “range of new favourites, such that a top 100 list would be more balanced”. Though the initiatives mentioned here are a step in the right direction, Chadd’s statement suggests that male artists will continue to be favoured for the time being. Is this the best that can be achieved right now? Perhaps 10% of airtime currently reserved for jazz luminaries could be substituted with recordings by top quality female artists not currently on high rotation. Listen to Attaboi's playlist of female artists not included in the nomination list here Upon further examination of the Jazz 100, we found there to be approximately 44% representation of People Of Colour (POC). There were 0 POC from so-called Australia included. Australian artists made up 21% of the list. We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection in our community. We would like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other First Nations people who have read this article.

  • Lior on Hybrid Identities, Belonging and Music Collaboration

    By Yara Alkurd, Ella Clair, Jake Amy, Emma Volard and Hugh Heller The past eleven years have been really hard. As a Palestinian immigrant, painting on an identity without a picture to draw from felt nearly impossible, and I didn’t leave a war zone to get stuck in one in my head… People who have to start over in a place not built for them, but make it their home anyway, are my biggest inspiration. Talking to other immigrants allows me to explore and reflect on my own identity. And it’s complicated. Singer/songwriter and APRA award winner Lior immigrated to Sydney when he was 10. I sat down with Lior to talk about belonging, “hybrid” identities, and music collaboration. What follows is an abridged version of our conversation. A lot of immigrants feel that they don’t belong in the place they move to, but also, don’t feel like they belong in their home country. Where is your home? I certainly don’t feel a 100% sense of home and belonging in either Australia or Israel… for different reasons. I’ve accepted that there’s a large part of my heart which lies in Israel. And I believe any person would have a strong connection to the place they experienced their childhood, particularly a happy childhood. But I also know that when I go back to Israel, I don’t feel like, “Oh, this is where I need to be living”. In Australia, I don’t have any ancestry or familial ties. I don’t have a strong connection with the origins of how “Australia” was created. But I also feel so lucky that my family did come here and that we can enjoy the privilege of living here. I love the inherent fairness that’s embedded into Australian society - a unique concept which I think is actually very hard to find in other places in the world. There is a certain authenticity and acceptance here. I mean, I think we’ve still got a long way to go, for sure, but there’s also a lot to like. Have there been moments where you’ve been confused about your identity? Yes. I regard my identity as being a “hybrid”. Having grown up in Israel, I have a strong sense of spiritual identity linked there. Referring to cultural practices, I am Jewish and that forms part of my identity (the religious side of it has never really appealed to me… I’m more interested in music, culture, customs, language and philosophy). My Australian identity is more linked with the immediate; loving where I live and the lifestyle I can have here. So my sense of identity constantly shifts. It’s a very hard thing to pinpoint. Music has been a great thing that helps define who I am, and can also be a source of escapism when I need it. Y: Do you feel centred in your identity? I do, because I’ve accepted that my identity is a thing that is composed of many fragments. I also think that family has become the backbone of my identity as I’ve gotten older. Do you feel a sense of independence is intertwined with the identity of immigrants? I’ve never really thought about that. I’ve always just put my independence down to being a really stubborn person, but it could very well be because I’m an immigrant. There’s a beautiful line in Hamilton; “Immigrants. We get the job done.” It’s a bit like that, isn’t it? Y: I’m very stubborn as well and I’ve been wondering; is this at all related to being an immigrant? As an immigrant, I often feel like the outsider. In the first few years of moving here, I definitely felt like an outsider… though I wouldn’t say that I ever felt “alienated”. And I think when you’re an outsider, you have two options; one is to stand tall and say, “Right, I’m going to forge my own path here,” or you can shrivel up into foetal position. So, perhaps that outsider thing does lend itself to being more independent. What are the social/political responsibilities of an artist? Big picture wise, artists are a mirror to society and have a place to occupy. They’re reflective of what’s going on. On a micro level, it comes down to an individual artist’s purpose. Some artists feel a lot stronger about being those reflectors of society. Personally, I haven’t really been a “political” artist. Often we’re drawn to do things that impacted us when we were growing up. When you’re a teenager, everything is so amplified. For me, that is the way that art made me feel. Like there was something greater, a higher emotional plane perhaps, that took me away from the mundaneness of things. I regard myself more as an introspective artist - I’m interested in dealing with the human condition, relationships, and opening people through expressing vulnerability in my music. In 2013, you collaborated with Nigel Westlake to create Compassion, an orchestral song cycle for voice and orchestra set to ancient texts in Hebrew and Arabic. What did you learn most from that experience? Compassion probably resonated with audiences more than anything Nigel or I had ever worked on. It was surprising given I was singing in two languages foreign to most of the audience and people didn’t understand the words. I think people could feel what I was trying to convey, which was affirming and validating in a mysterious kind of way. There was definitely something spiritual embodied in the text and the music. I don’t know if it was a learning experience as much as it was a wonder. On a technical level, it was great to realise how much crossover there was with the Arabic texts and Hebrew language. What does Compassion mean to you? For Nigel and I, Compassion was actually trying to present a message of the wisdom of compassion, which is something universal and humanitarian that’s applicable to all human beings. But also, we tried to make the work more poignant by drawing from two worlds that have had such a volatile history over time, and tried to find common ground as well as conveying how important those messages [of compassion] are within those religions. In both languages, the word for compassion constitutes one of the names for “God”. It's a reflection of the importance that both religions put on the trait of compassion. In a broader sense, Compassion is a hugely important and musically very powerful piece. The orchestration that Nigel did is amazing and so multi layered. I find new things in it all the time. I’m really proud of the melodies that I constructed and the texts that I sourced. On a performance level, it's really uplifting and exhilarating to stand in front of an orchestra playing music of that dynamic. It’s also great to step onto a stage and feel like you’re 100% behind the message that you’re delivering. I know that most people don’t understand the words I’m saying, but a literal understanding was always printed in the programme. The premiere of Compassion was actually in Sydney on the night of the elections where Tony Abbott won. I had so many people after the concert saying, “I'm so depressed about the outcome of the election, but I’m so glad I got to spend it here, listening to this.” There was this sense of brotherhood and sisterhood to Compassion. Y: And what does the word “compassion” personally mean to you? The seed of it was the hymn that I sang in the last movement called “Avinu Malkeinu”, which I originally looked into because I was developing my singing for the piece. I went back to traditional Jewish melodies just to experiment with new styles of singing. This hymn is sung on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, and it’s about forgiveness. But, it also has this line in it that says, ‘Instil me with a greater sense of compassion so that I can be liberated’. When I was singing it, I was thinking “oh, wow, what a beautiful line”. To say that compassion is the way that we can become freer within ourselves. That just lit a flame of being drawn to the idea of compassion and then reading about it. The final song of my second album Safety of Distance, I won't go into the story behind it, but there's a line saying, “Compassion is the measure of a man.” It became a central theme in my philosophy and lyric writing. As well as being the most important virtue that I have, and what I think is the central thing that defines what it is to be human. In your opinion, what would happen if radio stations explicitly played music made by immigrants for three months? I think we can form connections with so much more music than we think, but we rarely give that music more than one fleeting listen. I think there could be a gateway to a greater appreciation of music and culture if people were repeatedly exposed to new music, gained insight into how it’s made and what’s important in it. Hip-hop is a great example. In ‘90s Australia, it was a marginalised art form, and people would often be dismissive and judgmental of it. As people slowly listened to it over and over, they became more accepting of it. Now, artists such as Hilltop Hoods are mainstream and draw enormous crowds. It only took 10 to 20 years for people to look beyond their superficial judgments of it… What’s one great initiative that you want to see more of in the Australian music scene? More support for young artists - the first few years are really tough for emerging musicians. I’ve been involved in a program through APRA, where we go to schools and work with budding songwriters. An artist and producer team up and spend a couple of days collaborating. I’ve been a mentor for quite a few of them now, and have seen the impact it makes on a lot of young artists, which is great. These programs are really successful, and I think there’s so much to be gained through programs like that (and just general music education). I’d like to see permanent initiatives rolled out in high schools. Sadly, I don’t think that’s on the agenda for this government. Y: Ever since coming here, I’ve felt that I am always a step behind everyone. Initiatives like that in high school learning would be very helpful. Yeah, I do think that if you want to be an artist, you have to figure it out for yourself and as you go. It was interesting going into these high schools as a mentor because the students were like, “Oh, this guy’s doing it. It’s possible... Maybe I can do it as well?”. I saw so many light bulb moments. Some of those moments are ones that light a spark to make students believe that they can go on and do it. Any advice for emerging artists? It would’ve been good to listen a bit more to people that were in the industry and not think that just because I was doing it on my own, I knew everything. Keep up to date with Lior here We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection in our community. We would like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other First Nations people who have read this article.

  • Elle Shimada on Identity and Sexual Liberation

    By Emma Volard, Jake Amy and Hugh Heller CW: eating disorders, body dysmorphia In 2019, “Asian” was one of the highest ranking searches on PornHub in Australia. For Elle Shimada, this statistic suggests that women of Asian descent are exposed to a society that objectifies and fetishises their bodies. Emma spoke to the Tokyo-born and Naarm-based producer and multi-instrumentalist known for her feminist and political tones in her art, about the effects of fetishisation on her identity, her perception of her body and her reclamation of sexual power. What follows is an abridged version of the conversation. Can you talk about your relationship with your body? I want to thank my body first, for allowing me to live and love. In general, I think I’d like to show more gratitude for it, as I tend to focus more on the wrong things before acknowledging what’s right with it. I don’t always take care of my body enough, eat healthily, or treat it with the love that it deserves. But my body is healthy, and is the vessel for everything I do in this realm: living and breathing, creating, playing music, making love, dancing, holding intellect, integrity, expressing who I am. There are so many ways we can love our bodies, and we can only decide these things for ourselves. Only we can (and should) judge what works for us. Whether that is to do with acceptance, getting fit, losing weight, eating healthy…or not! Sometimes, the healthiest decision is eating those three desserts. I think like everyone else in lockdown, I’ve gone through so many different mental states. From wanting to learn a lot, to feeling quite overwhelmed, to depressed, inspired… But recently I’ve come to a new phase, which I’m really enjoying. How has your identity impacted your perspective on body image? As a woman, I’ve gone through different phases. As a child, I didn’t really think about body image. My body was a vessel that allowed me to explore and adventure. As I progressed to being a woman, my body changed a lot. There was a point in my late teens/early 20s where I didn’t appreciate my body at all. I had an eating disorder, went through body dysmorphia and felt like I didn’t fit into “normal” beauty standards. I migrated from Tokyo to Australia… [Australia is] a place where my body type is not the dominant body type. The beauty standards here are very different to back home. Typically, East Asian people are short and slim. There is a huge emphasis on being slim, more so than here in Australia. In my experience, those standards affect mainly younger women. I recognise to some extent that being a “typical Asian woman” means I will always be fetishised in a Western society. In Australia, “Asian” is one of the highest ranked PornHub searches. In my early 20s, I thought, “Fuck you, I’m going to capitalise on that”. I took that as a source of empowerment and started to embrace my sexuality and sensuality. Now I’m more mature and in my mid 20s, I feel less insecure and more appreciative of my body. I find very little power in the male gaze in the same narrative… but there’s still a patriarchy that I’m trying to flip. I’m trying to embrace my body, for me, for my sisters, for everyone. I also find all different kinds of bodies sexy, strong and admirable. A little while back, you posted a series of photos titled Stay Horny For Art. What does that phrase mean to you? Well… I’m a really horny person, so it was a message for myself. I’ve been in the music industry for a few years now and I found I was taking it all too seriously. I used to constantly think, “I have to practise, I have to do this now”, and forgot about the pure joy of creating art. I’m quite a sensual person - a sexual desire is never a chore. All the feelings I get from making love and natural desires… I want to stay playful and flirt with creativity in the same state of mind. I'm grateful that isolation is helping me get back to that state. Are women’s expressions of sexuality seen as taboo? To be honest, I think all people’s expressions of sexuality are seen as taboo. However, I think expressions of sexuality have the ability to affect the way our male-dominated society is run, provided we feel comfortable with expressing our sexuality. Historically, women’s expressions of sexuality have been for a male gaze. I think expressions of sexuality being “taboo” shows their power. What are your experiences with fetishisation, objectification and tokenisation? As an East Asian woman, I barely fit into moulds imposed onto people in Australia. I’m not here to be appropriated or subjected to that bullshit. I think cultural fetishisation/“appreciation” is the result of colonialism. And it happens all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever walked onto Brunswick St in Fitzroy in the middle of the night without having some form of “interaction” with someone. And a common response when I tell them what the fuck is up is, “Why do you have a problem?”. My problem is that I’m not there to please or be objectified. Sometimes it’s very obvious that I’ve been tokenised and not seen as an artist. But then some things are actually harder to see - is it cultural curiosity, tokenisation or someone just genuinely interested in giving me space in the industry? Maybe it doesn’t matter what an organiser’s intentions are if the outcome of the gig is “art”? It’s up to us as performers to create what the audience feels. But that being said, I’m still vocal if I feel tokenised, to make sure that pattern doesn’t continue to repeat. On Instagram, you have been vocal about light skin privilege within your culture. How have you seen this manifest in so-called Australia? Privilege is based on many factors - socio-economic status, access to education or welfare, language, gender… and the list goes on. I think that simply buying into one factor of privilege, such as skin tone, can take away from the complexity of an individual’s experience. Whatever privilege we do have, skin tone is something visible for any seeing person, and unfortunately in this society, skin tone determines the opportunities/discrimination that we receive. As a light skin person, I think the healthiest thing to do is to acknowledge that. Do you feel that being a woman has affected the way you’ve been treated in the music scene? So often we are expected to fight in a battlefield that’s not even made for us. But on the other hand, there has been so much support and empowerment from many sisters and brothers. And I’m glad to be a woman. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love it. I think it’s an exciting time to be a woman, because while there is still more work to do, there hasn’t ever been an easier time for us to do what we want to do. We have to think about what it took for us to get here and be mindful that the fight will continue so that the next generation can be more accepting and explorative than our generation. What change would you like to see in the so-called Australian music industry over the next five years? The most important thing for me is seeing more First Nations artists being represented, and not only onstage, but within the entire industry. Representation offstage will sustainably contribute to changing the industry. Another thing is, I want to see freedom of expression from all of us, but especially those who are women, queer, and/or BIPOC. I want to feel that marginalised groups are supported by the industry, and for that support to extend into more job positions, in management, distribution, radio… the whole industry really. As I get older, I’m becoming more and more interested in mentoring and passing on the knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the years to empower emerging young people. I wish more people had helped me prepare for when I entered the industry in my teenage years. Also… I wish someone told me that we don’t have to bend our knees for shit we don’t agree with. I believe we haven’t heard 90% of all music that can be heard and experienced due to the music industry being a white man’s world. In terms of representation, I like to think about the sounds we haven’t heard yet with excitement. What we can be is maybe as important, if not more important, than what we are. But we can’t figure out what we can be without learning about what we have been. Keep up to date with Elle Shimada here If you or someone you know is struggling, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, we highly recommend these resources: Butterfly Foundation: (+61) 1800 334 673 Lifeline: (+61) 13 11 14 Eating Disorders Victoria: (+61) 1300 550 236 We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection in our community. We would like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other First Nations people who have read this article.

  • Elle Shimada on Identity and Sexual Liberation

    By Emma Volard, Jake Amy and Hugh Heller CW: eating disorders, body dysmorphia In 2019, “Asian” was one of the highest ranking searches on PornHub in Australia. For Elle Shimada, this statistic suggests that women of Asian descent are exposed to a society that objectifies and fetishises their bodies. Emma spoke to the Tokyo-born and Naarm-based producer and multi-instrumentalist known for her feminist and political tones in her art, about the effects of fetishisation on her identity, her perception of her body and her reclamation of sexual power. What follows is an abridged version of the conversation. Can you talk about your relationship with your body? I want to thank my body first, for allowing me to live and love. In general, I think I’d like to show more gratitude for it, as I tend to focus more on the wrong things before acknowledging what’s right with it. I don’t always take care of my body enough, eat healthily, or treat it with the love that it deserves. But my body is healthy, and is the vessel for everything I do in this realm: living and breathing, creating, playing music, making love, dancing, holding intellect, integrity, expressing who I am. There are so many ways we can love our bodies, and we can only decide these things for ourselves. Only we can (and should) judge what works for us. Whether that is to do with acceptance, getting fit, losing weight, eating healthy…or not! Sometimes, the healthiest decision is eating those three desserts. I think like everyone else in lockdown, I’ve gone through so many different mental states. From wanting to learn a lot, to feeling quite overwhelmed, to depressed, inspired… But recently I’ve come to a new phase, which I’m really enjoying. How has your identity impacted your perspective on body image? As a woman, I’ve gone through different phases. As a child, I didn’t really think about body image. My body was a vessel that allowed me to explore and adventure. As I progressed to being a woman, my body changed a lot. There was a point in my late teens/early 20s where I didn’t appreciate my body at all. I had an eating disorder, went through body dysmorphia and felt like I didn’t fit into “normal” beauty standards. I migrated from Tokyo to Australia… [Australia is] a place where my body type is not the dominant body type. The beauty standards here are very different to back home. Typically, East Asian people are short and slim. There is a huge emphasis on being slim, more so than here in Australia. In my experience, those standards affect mainly younger women. I recognise to some extent that being a “typical Asian woman” means I will always be fetishised in a Western society. In Australia, “Asian” is one of the highest ranked PornHub searches. In my early 20s, I thought, “Fuck you, I’m going to capitalise on that”. I took that as a source of empowerment and started to embrace my sexuality and sensuality. Now I’m more mature and in my mid 20s, I feel less insecure and more appreciative of my body. I find very little power in the male gaze in the same narrative… but there’s still a patriarchy that I’m trying to flip. I’m trying to embrace my body, for me, for my sisters, for everyone. I also find all different kinds of bodies sexy, strong and admirable. A little while back, you posted a series of photos titled Stay Horny For Art. What does that phrase mean to you? Well… I’m a really horny person, so it was a message for myself. I’ve been in the music industry for a few years now and I found I was taking it all too seriously. I used to constantly think, “I have to practise, I have to do this now”, and forgot about the pure joy of creating art. I’m quite a sensual person - a sexual desire is never a chore. All the feelings I get from making love and natural desires… I want to stay playful and flirt with creativity in the same state of mind. I'm grateful that isolation is helping me get back to that state. Are women’s expressions of sexuality seen as taboo? To be honest, I think all people’s expressions of sexuality are seen as taboo. However, I think expressions of sexuality have the ability to affect the way our male-dominated society is run, provided we feel comfortable with expressing our sexuality. Historically, women’s expressions of sexuality have been for a male gaze. I think expressions of sexuality being “taboo” shows their power. What are your experiences with fetishisation, objectification and tokenisation? As an East Asian woman, I barely fit into moulds imposed onto people in Australia. I’m not here to be appropriated or subjected to that bullshit. I think cultural fetishisation/“appreciation” is the result of colonialism. And it happens all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever walked onto Brunswick St in Fitzroy in the middle of the night without having some form of “interaction” with someone. And a common response when I tell them what the fuck is up is, “Why do you have a problem?”. My problem is that I’m not there to please or be objectified. Sometimes it’s very obvious that I’ve been tokenised and not seen as an artist. But then some things are actually harder to see - is it cultural curiosity, tokenisation or someone just genuinely interested in giving me space in the industry? Maybe it doesn’t matter what an organiser’s intentions are if the outcome of the gig is “art”? It’s up to us as performers to create what the audience feels. But that being said, I’m still vocal if I feel tokenised, to make sure that pattern doesn’t continue to repeat. On Instagram, you have been vocal about light skin privilege within your culture. How have you seen this manifest in so-called Australia? Privilege is based on many factors - socio-economic status, access to education or welfare, language, gender… and the list goes on. I think that simply buying into one factor of privilege, such as skin tone, can take away from the complexity of an individual’s experience. Whatever privilege we do have, skin tone is something visible for any seeing person, and unfortunately in this society, skin tone determines the opportunities/discrimination that we receive. As a light skin person, I think the healthiest thing to do is to acknowledge that. Do you feel that being a woman has affected the way you’ve been treated in the music scene? So often we are expected to fight in a battlefield that’s not even made for us. But on the other hand, there has been so much support and empowerment from many sisters and brothers. And I’m glad to be a woman. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love it. I think it’s an exciting time to be a woman, because while there is still more work to do, there hasn’t ever been an easier time for us to do what we want to do. We have to think about what it took for us to get here and be mindful that the fight will continue so that the next generation can be more accepting and explorative than our generation. What change would you like to see in the so-called Australian music industry over the next five years? The most important thing for me is seeing more First Nations artists being represented, and not only onstage, but within the entire industry. Representation offstage will sustainably contribute to changing the industry. Another thing is, I want to see freedom of expression from all of us, but especially those who are women, queer, and/or BIPOC. I want to feel that marginalised groups are supported by the industry, and for that support to extend into more job positions, in management, distribution, radio… the whole industry really. As I get older, I’m becoming more and more interested in mentoring and passing on the knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the years to empower emerging young people. I wish more people had helped me prepare for when I entered the industry in my teenage years. Also… I wish someone told me that we don’t have to bend our knees for shit we don’t agree with. I believe we haven’t heard 90% of all music that can be heard and experienced due to the music industry being a white man’s world. In terms of representation, I like to think about the sounds we haven’t heard yet with excitement. What we can be is maybe as important, if not more important, than what we are. But we can’t figure out what we can be without learning about what we have been. Keep up to date with Elle Shimada here If you or someone you know is struggling, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, we highly recommend these resources: Butterfly Foundation: (+61) 1800 334 673 Lifeline: (+61) 13 11 14 Eating Disorders Victoria: (+61) 1300 550 236 We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection in our community. We would like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other First Nations people who have read this article. Our inbox is always open if you need to talk. Contact us at info@wildoatsrecords.net Article first published 20 September 2020. Photos by Tope Adesina. Written and edited by Emma Volard, Jake Amy and Hugh Heller.

  • Rya Park’s Perspective on Body Image

    By Emma Volard, Jake Amy and Hugh Heller CW: eating disorders, suicide, body dysmorphia Every day, we receive messages about our bodies: from the media, from people around us and from cultural norms. A constant barrage of information tells us how to look and how to feel, contributing to issues ranging from low self-worth to mental illness. This is especially true for women who are inundated with ideals of a “healthy” and “beautiful” exterior. For music artists in the public eye, these standards are extremely hard to transcend. Ahead of Body Image Week, Emma sat down with Rya Park, an Australian singer/songwriter acclaimed for her presentation of hard-hitting topics such as toxic relationships and mental health, to discuss her relationship with body image and mental health transparency. What follows is an abridged version of the conversation. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with your body? My relationship with my body is very negative - I’ve had body image issues since I was about 8 and eating issues since 13. Initially, it took a long time to understand that I had an eating disorder, because when I was first diagnosed, I was of “average weight” and didn’t think there was a problem with what I was doing. I’ve been extremely underweight, I've been extremely overweight. I’ve gone through phases of eating nothing, I’ve gone through phases of eating everything. But I’m trying to love my body more as I get older. The more I understand that the “patriarchy” has made me feel this way, the more I’m like, “Fuck this, I need to love my body”. Some days, I’m super grateful about what my body can do. Right now I am on the track of recovery and am starting to believe that it’s possible to recover from this. How has your identity impacted your perspective on body image? All I’ve ever been told by the TV or magazines is that “a woman's ultimate goal is to be thin and white”. They might say that “cellulite is bad” and that “putting on weight is the worst thing you can do, so here are 5 ways to lose it”. The amount of times I’ve been congratulated on losing weight… and I just don’t see that happening to my male friends. Even though we’re in 2020, being a woman is really hard. Most of my friends still have a negative relationship with their body image. And it’s only through expressing my own struggle on social media that others have shared their story with me. Even people who I had no idea struggled, such as my close friends. It makes me really sad, and I think we need to do more about it. I want to figure out what that is and then do it. In your experience, can transparency about mental health on social media be beneficial or harmful? Overall, I’ve had a positive experience, but at times it’s bittersweet… It’s amazing that lots of people have opened up about their issues. I mean, it’s so important to talk about. But it’s also sad to see the amount of messages I get from people that hate their bodies. These conversations aren’t being had in mainstream media, so I feel very privileged to have had an opportunity to create a safe space, however, after sharing an experience about my eating disorder, I am quite vulnerable. I think it’s important to have self-care strategies in place, just to make sure I’m taking care of myself too. Sometimes I’ll post something and feel like I’m being annoying or like these issues aren’t worth talking about. But people who thank me for my honesty keep me going… E: Do you feel that being this transparent has helped people engage with you on social media? As a musician, I always thought that social media was about sharing music and just that. Now, I’m starting to realise there’s so much more than that. If I can help even just one person on a bad day, that’s amazing… But it’s so contrived: I post pictures I think I look the prettiest or the thinnest in. Do you see yourself represented in the Australian music industry? I do, and I’m very privileged in that way. I mean, I’m a cis-gendered white woman. That’s where I see myself represented. But I believe there still needs to be more space made for women, and more conversations about body diversity, body image and mental health. There’s heaps of information out there, but there’s definitely not enough people talking about it. E: How does the lack of those conversations make you feel? Very alone, especially when I’m having a bad day. I wish there were more platforms I could turn to in those times. I do try to follow quite a diverse range of people on social media, such as body positivity pages that showcase a range of female body types. It makes me feel good about myself when I see my body type (which fluctuates all the time) represented. I don’t see those different body shapes in mainstream media. It can be really detrimental if we only post about our good days, because it can definitely make others feel bad about themselves. I think it’s important to highlight when we’re feeling crappy. Has being transparent in your music about your eating disorder shaped you as “Rya Park”? Being able to talk openly and honestly about my eating disorder has been a therapeutic experience, for both myself and so many others. It’s also validated the kind of artist I want to be - open, transparent and compassionate for those who are struggling. If I can be an advocate for young women… I feel like that transparency carries into my songwriting. Has the music industry exacerbated your relationship with your body? Yes! Many of my male friends wear the same thing to every gig they play and there’s never a single comment about it, yet I feel that women are always expected to “look the part”. When women perform, some of the first things people ask are, “What is she wearing?”, “Who is she wearing?”, “Is she wearing heaps of makeup?”, “Why isn’t she wearing heaps of makeup?”. Yesterday, I decided that I’m going to wear the same black trench coat to every single gig for the next two years. That’s my goal. What do you do for self care? I play with my dog, do lots of yoga and meditate. Seeing friends makes me feel really good. And it was amazing to realise that these are the things I need to do to feel good. For a while there, I got a bit confused with what “self care” was, because I would compare myself to friends and think, “Well they don’t have to meditate to feel calm... Why do I have to do it?”. For a while there, I would resist doing the stuff that made me feel better and then get into a spiral, feeling more and more shit. At the start of the year, I was admitted to hospital for some deep depression. I realise now that the eating disorder is the crux of my issue - it feeds the anxiety and depression in a cycle. Now my medication has been sorted, I no longer feel depressed and I only get a little anxious at times, but my eating disorder issues are still there. In my last admission, which was my third for the year, I wasn’t coping with lockdown at all - it made me feel so down. I know a lot of people have felt this, but at the time, I just needed to put my hand up and say, “I’m not coping. I need extra help right now”. So, I went to the clinic for a month, which was great. I’m doing much better now. Coming out of hospital, I had to plan my strategies. At first, I came home and thought, “I'm so ready for the world. I’m going to do all the things - I’m going to make a music video and I’m going to write new songs”. But by day four, I just crashed and cried. It was a really hard transition. It takes me so long to process things. I’ve still been struggling with the eating disorder, but I just joined an eating disorder support group, which has been an incredible way to share my experiences. How did you figure out that you had an eating disorder? I remember thinking I needed to lose weight around 8. I remember thinking I was “bigger” than other kids. I look back at photos now, and I wasn’t. I was “average” sized, even “small”. From Year 5 onwards, I only wore black clothes. And I did that up until I was 23. I wore black to make me look slimmer and hide my body. In summer, I would wear long sleeves. I still struggle with being in swimwear… I don't think I’ve been seen socially in my bathers for about 12 years. When I was around 20, a really toxic relationship with a partner took my eating disorder to its lowest point. It was my best friend who kept telling me I had an eating problem, but I was in complete denial and losing weight rapidly. It was so fucking shit - people were congratulating me on losing weight, which made me want to lose even more. It wasn’t until my best friend literally said, “You need to see a psychologist about your eating problem”, that I accepted I had one. Until then, the eating disorder was everything. It controlled me. The start of letting go was like saying goodbye to a friend. I’m still learning how to let go of it. E: Do you feel that having a healthy relationship with your current partner has helped to shape a healthier relationship with your body? I've been with Nick for three years now, and it's definitely the antidote to my previous relationship. He's very supportive and we're in a very happy relationship. He is very across all my issues with body image, and eating, and he is just the most gentle and kind person, and doesn't put any pressure on me to ever get better quick, and he's been there throughout all my admissions. But even though I’ve been with Nick for three years, I still struggle being naked around him. That can be challenging. I’m so self conscious. We’ve come up with a funny little phrase for my tummy. We say that my “tummy is cute and yummy”, and then he tickles me. It’s been really nice having that. It’s made me feel more comfortable with my body around him. What is your opinion on “skinny privilege”? I find it hard to speak on “skinny privilege”, because the eating disorder distorts my perception of what “skinny” is. There is skinny privilege, because being skinny is so highly regarded in mainstream media. If someone is “skinny”, but actually has an eating disorder… it’s hard to say whether they would be privileged or not. I would never wish that upon anybody. At the moment, I’m only a size 10 to 12, which is below the average size (14 to 16) for women in Australia. Some people might ask, “What is she complaining about?”. I’ve been a size 16, and I’ve been a size 6. I’ve kind of been through it all. Body image is a complex issue. It’s sad to see these problems, even when it is on a very small scale. Some of my friends have admitted to not liking their bodies. They get into their bikinis as a size 6, a size 10, a size 16, but still don’t feel fully comfortable in what they see. I think that’s got a lot to do with the patriarchy and how women have been treated over countless years. Deep down, I know that my own negative relationship with my body is reflective of these imposed structures. But, I also suffer from an illness. Maybe without the patriarchy, I wouldn’t have had an eating disorder. I feel the Australian music industry could be more diverse. I would like to see more body diversity. Often, people who are highly regarded and highly celebrated tend to be thin. E: Do you feel that people should ever comment on body weight? Personally... no. It’s not necessary or important. But then again, it feels so contradictory to say that, because I have an eating disorder. Do you think that the male gaze is a prevalent power construct within the Australian music industry? I do. If you’re a woman and “dressing up”, there will be comments. If you’re “dressing down”, there will be comments. And if you are dressing down, people will think that it’s some form of rebellion against being a woman. Really, women should just be allowed to wear whatever the fuck they want to wear, and have no comments made about it. Whatsoever. Even at my shows, I’m still pretty wary to cover up and not show too much skin, because I’m scared of how I might be seen. I wish that you could literally just go up to any stage, naked, and sing. Should we be talking about body image when there are more pressing social/political issues? Yes, especially considering suicide is the most common cause of death among people with eating disorders. Even though there is a lot going on in the world right now, body image is definitely a pressing issue. It’s something that needs to be addressed and that needs more support. It can seem very trivial to some people, but it’s a really important topic. Keep up to date with Rya Park here If you or someone you know is struggling, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, we highly recommend these resources: Butterfly Foundation: (+61) 1800 334 673 Lifeline: (+61) 13 11 14 Eating Disorders Victoria: (+61) 1300 550 236 We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection in our community. We would like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other First Nations people who have read this article. Photos provided by Tom McGenniss-Destro.

  • Rya Park’s Perspective on Body Image

    By Emma Volard, Jake Amy and Hugh Heller CW: eating disorders, suicide, body dysmorphia Every day, we receive messages about our bodies: from the media, from people around us and from cultural norms. A constant barrage of information tells us how to look and how to feel, contributing to issues ranging from low self-worth to mental illness. This is especially true for women who are inundated with ideals of a “healthy” and “beautiful” exterior. For music artists in the public eye, these standards are extremely hard to transcend. Ahead of Body Image Week, Emma sat down with Rya Park, an Australian singer/songwriter acclaimed for her presentation of hard-hitting topics such as toxic relationships and mental health, to discuss her relationship with body image and mental health transparency. What follows is an abridged version of the conversation. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with your body? My relationship with my body is very negative - I’ve had body image issues since I was about 8 and eating issues since 13. Initially, it took a long time to understand that I had an eating disorder, because when I was first diagnosed, I was of “average weight” and didn’t think there was a problem with what I was doing. I’ve been extremely underweight, I've been extremely overweight. I’ve gone through phases of eating nothing, I’ve gone through phases of eating everything. But I’m trying to love my body more as I get older. The more I understand that the “patriarchy” has made me feel this way, the more I’m like, “Fuck this, I need to love my body”. Some days, I’m super grateful about what my body can do. Right now I am on the track of recovery and am starting to believe that it’s possible to recover from this. How has your identity impacted your perspective on body image? All I’ve ever been told by the TV or magazines is that “a woman's ultimate goal is to be thin and white”. They might say that “cellulite is bad” and that “putting on weight is the worst thing you can do, so here are 5 ways to lose it”. The amount of times I’ve been congratulated on losing weight… and I just don’t see that happening to my male friends. Even though we’re in 2020, being a woman is really hard. Most of my friends still have a negative relationship with their body image. And it’s only through expressing my own struggle on social media that others have shared their story with me. Even people who I had no idea struggled, such as my close friends. It makes me really sad, and I think we need to do more about it. I want to figure out what that is and then do it. In your experience, can transparency about mental health on social media be beneficial or harmful? Overall, I’ve had a positive experience, but at times it’s bittersweet… It’s amazing that lots of people have opened up about their issues. I mean, it’s so important to talk about. But it’s also sad to see the amount of messages I get from people that hate their bodies. These conversations aren’t being had in mainstream media, so I feel very privileged to have had an opportunity to create a safe space, however, after sharing an experience about my eating disorder, I am quite vulnerable. I think it’s important to have self-care strategies in place, just to make sure I’m taking care of myself too. Sometimes I’ll post something and feel like I’m being annoying or like these issues aren’t worth talking about. But people who thank me for my honesty keep me going… E: Do you feel that being this transparent has helped people engage with you on social media? As a musician, I always thought that social media was about sharing music and just that. Now, I’m starting to realise there’s so much more than that. If I can help even just one person on a bad day, that’s amazing… But it’s so contrived: I post pictures I think I look the prettiest or the thinnest in. Do you see yourself represented in the Australian music industry? I do, and I’m very privileged in that way. I mean, I’m a cis-gendered white woman. That’s where I see myself represented. But I believe there still needs to be more space made for women, and more conversations about body diversity, body image and mental health. There’s heaps of information out there, but there’s definitely not enough people talking about it. E: How does the lack of those conversations make you feel? Very alone, especially when I’m having a bad day. I wish there were more platforms I could turn to in those times. I do try to follow quite a diverse range of people on social media, such as body positivity pages that showcase a range of female body types. It makes me feel good about myself when I see my body type (which fluctuates all the time) represented. I don’t see those different body shapes in mainstream media. It can be really detrimental if we only post about our good days, because it can definitely make others feel bad about themselves. I think it’s important to highlight when we’re feeling crappy. Has being transparent in your music about your eating disorder shaped you as “Rya Park”? Being able to talk openly and honestly about my eating disorder has been a therapeutic experience, for both myself and so many others. It’s also validated the kind of artist I want to be - open, transparent and compassionate for those who are struggling. If I can be an advocate for young women… I feel like that transparency carries into my songwriting. Has the music industry exacerbated your relationship with your body? Yes! Many of my male friends wear the same thing to every gig they play and there’s never a single comment about it, yet I feel that women are always expected to “look the part”. When women perform, some of the first things people ask are, “What is she wearing?”, “Who is she wearing?”, “Is she wearing heaps of makeup?”, “Why isn’t she wearing heaps of makeup?”. Yesterday, I decided that I’m going to wear the same black trench coat to every single gig for the next two years. That’s my goal. What do you do for self care? I play with my dog, do lots of yoga and meditate. Seeing friends makes me feel really good. And it was amazing to realise that these are the things I need to do to feel good. For a while there, I got a bit confused with what “self care” was, because I would compare myself to friends and think, “Well they don’t have to meditate to feel calm... Why do I have to do it?”. For a while there, I would resist doing the stuff that made me feel better and then get into a spiral, feeling more and more shit. At the start of the year, I was admitted to hospital for some deep depression. I realise now that the eating disorder is the crux of my issue - it feeds the anxiety and depression in a cycle. Now my medication has been sorted, I no longer feel depressed and I only get a little anxious at times, but my eating disorder issues are still there. In my last admission, which was my third for the year, I wasn’t coping with lockdown at all - it made me feel so down. I know a lot of people have felt this, but at the time, I just needed to put my hand up and say, “I’m not coping. I need extra help right now”. So, I went to the clinic for a month, which was great. I’m doing much better now. Coming out of hospital, I had to plan my strategies. At first, I came home and thought, “I'm so ready for the world. I’m going to do all the things - I’m going to make a music video and I’m going to write new songs”. But by day four, I just crashed and cried. It was a really hard transition. It takes me so long to process things. I’ve still been struggling with the eating disorder, but I just joined an eating disorder support group, which has been an incredible way to share my experiences. How did you figure out that you had an eating disorder? I remember thinking I needed to lose weight around 8. I remember thinking I was “bigger” than other kids. I look back at photos now, and I wasn’t. I was “average” sized, even “small”. From Year 5 onwards, I only wore black clothes. And I did that up until I was 23. I wore black to make me look slimmer and hide my body. In summer, I would wear long sleeves. I still struggle with being in swimwear… I don't think I’ve been seen socially in my bathers for about 12 years. When I was around 20, a really toxic relationship with a partner took my eating disorder to its lowest point. It was my best friend who kept telling me I had an eating problem, but I was in complete denial and losing weight rapidly. It was so fucking shit - people were congratulating me on losing weight, which made me want to lose even more. It wasn’t until my best friend literally said, “You need to see a psychologist about your eating problem”, that I accepted I had one. Until then, the eating disorder was everything. It controlled me. The start of letting go was like saying goodbye to a friend. I’m still learning how to let go of it. E: Do you feel that having a healthy relationship with your current partner has helped to shape a healthier relationship with your body? I've been with Nick for three years now, and it's definitely the antidote to my previous relationship. He's very supportive and we're in a very happy relationship. He is very across all my issues with body image, and eating, and he is just the most gentle and kind person, and doesn't put any pressure on me to ever get better quick, and he's been there throughout all my admissions. But even though I’ve been with Nick for three years, I still struggle being naked around him. That can be challenging. I’m so self conscious. We’ve come up with a funny little phrase for my tummy. We say that my “tummy is cute and yummy”, and then he tickles me. It’s been really nice having that. It’s made me feel more comfortable with my body around him. What is your opinion on “skinny privilege”? I find it hard to speak on “skinny privilege”, because the eating disorder distorts my perception of what “skinny” is. There is skinny privilege, because being skinny is so highly regarded in mainstream media. If someone is “skinny”, but actually has an eating disorder… it’s hard to say whether they would be privileged or not. I would never wish that upon anybody. At the moment, I’m only a size 10 to 12, which is below the average size (14 to 16) for women in Australia. Some people might ask, “What is she complaining about?”. I’ve been a size 16, and I’ve been a size 6. I’ve kind of been through it all. Body image is a complex issue. It’s sad to see these problems, even when it is on a very small scale. Some of my friends have admitted to not liking their bodies. They get into their bikinis as a size 6, a size 10, a size 16, but still don’t feel fully comfortable in what they see. I think that’s got a lot to do with the patriarchy and how women have been treated over countless years. Deep down, I know that my own negative relationship with my body is reflective of these imposed structures. But, I also suffer from an illness. Maybe without the patriarchy, I wouldn’t have had an eating disorder. I feel the Australian music industry could be more diverse. I would like to see more body diversity. Often, people who are highly regarded and highly celebrated tend to be thin. E: Do you feel that people should ever comment on body weight? Personally... no. It’s not necessary or important. But then again, it feels so contradictory to say that, because I have an eating disorder. Do you think that the male gaze is a prevalent power construct within the Australian music industry? I do. If you’re a woman and “dressing up”, there will be comments. If you’re “dressing down”, there will be comments. And if you are dressing down, people will think that it’s some form of rebellion against being a woman. Really, women should just be allowed to wear whatever the fuck they want to wear, and have no comments made about it. Whatsoever. Even at my shows, I’m still pretty wary to cover up and not show too much skin, because I’m scared of how I might be seen. I wish that you could literally just go up to any stage, naked, and sing. Should we be talking about body image when there are more pressing social/political issues? Yes, especially considering suicide is the most common cause of death among people with eating disorders. Even though there is a lot going on in the world right now, body image is definitely a pressing issue. It’s something that needs to be addressed and that needs more support. It can seem very trivial to some people, but it’s a really important topic. Keep up to date with Rya Park here If you or someone you know is struggling, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, we highly recommend these resources: Butterfly Foundation: (+61) 1800 334 673 Lifeline: (+61) 13 11 14 Eating Disorders Victoria: (+61) 1300 550 236 We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection in our community. We would like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other First Nations people who have read this article. Our inbox is always open if you need to talk. Contact us at info@wildoatsrecords.net Article first published 13 September 2020. Photos provided by Tom McGenniss-Destro. Written and edited by Emma Volard, Jake Amy and Hugh Heller.

  • Your Stories: Body Image (Pt. II)

    By Ella Clair CW: eating disorders, abuse, body dysmorphia At the start of August, the Attaboi team put out an invitation for you to share with us your experiences with your own body image. The submissions we received demonstrate the vast complexities and intricate nuances of people’s relationships with their bodies. Touching on intersections of invisible illnesses, bullying, representation, racism, appropriation, career pressures and mental and physical health, these stories are compelling, raw and at times hard to read. Thank you so much for trusting us with your words. Your voices deserve to be heard and forge open a space for further conversations surrounding body image online and within our day to day lives. Submission 4: Galatea @hannahpots holds her in their dirty hands so they can play pretend eager to unfold it soft body moulded incised apologies eroded they carve her breath there’s almost nothing left their bonsai Aphrodite they found her words to bend lips to mend without an end Our bodies have been sold to us as "clickbait", our desirability as power and our attractiveness as commodity... Under patriarchal and capitalist structures, feelings of worthlessness manifest when you don’t look as consumable and marketable as you are told to be. Everything womxn are sold is targeted towards looking more digestible for male consumption and as a result this is what we (as a collective) consume. This is not a new structure. The ancient Greek story of Pygmalion reflected a familiar narrative and was even adapted into a makeover style film titled My Fair Lady in 1939, wherein Eliza Dolittle is transformed into a "lady". In the original story, Pygmalion is a sculptor and king of Cyprus who carves an ivory statue of a maiden, named Galatea. Galatea is so perfect that he falls in love with her. He then prays to Aphrodite to make her human (because you know, none of the other maidens could ever be as perfect) and she grants his wish. I do love that story without the ending though, because screw that guy… Most likely, everyone can resonate with looking into the mirror and picking themselves apart with insecurities. Sucking in your belly, tensing muscles, arching your back to give an illusion of a bigger bum and squeezing your sides to make your waist smaller. When you stare at a word for too long, it doesn’t look right. When you stare at yourself in the mirror for too long, you run the risk of doing the same. I don’t feel like I’m the most attractive person in a bar, nor am I immune to poking, prodding and warping my body in the mirror but... I can’t say I’ve ever experienced discrimination because of my body or skin. I am a size 10, able-bodied, white girl with what’s considered to be a feminine figure. Generally, society has never told me that my body is wrong. No matter how I feel about myself, no matter how much I critique myself, and no matter how shitty I may feel about myself, I have to accept that my genetics afford me privilege. Acknowledging that how "attractive" the general public perceives me to be has everything to do with how people treat me was difficult. I mostly wanted to write a lot of things off as they liked my "personality" (I know how annoying that sounds) when the reality is they may have liked my personality, but my approachability has everything to do with societal and patriarchal bias**. Another reason this was difficult to accept was that part of me thinks that accepting "attractiveness privilege" means I am automatically calling people who don’t look like me "unattractive" with which I wholeheartedly disagree. However, it’s more about understanding how my actions and thoughts on my own body affect those around me. I can be subject to the pressures of feeling not thin enough, falling into self-deprecatory fat-shaming when I see an "unflattering" photo of myself or mentally congratulating myself for skipping meals or not feeling hungry. Even though it is directed towards my own body, I have to fight it because my internalised fatphobia not only is unhealthy, in so many ways, it reinforces everything I claim to be against. I was called out for this behaviour by someone very close to me. I would never think or say any of these things about anyone else but how the hell is someone my size or larger going to feel hearing that I feel gross in a bikini? It most likely isn’t comfortable. We shape ourselves into their* Galatea so that they will love us and consume us so that we feel like we are worth something. This is heavily embedded into the way we think, and it’s important to not beat yourself (or others) up for parts of you that don’t or do fit into their* "desirable" category. Beauty is a cultural construct, and you will always be better whole. *they/their = patriarchy, capitalism, colonial structures **conscious and unconscious Submission 5: Not Your Place To Comment @evelynemandoukos As a teen I was always active and relatively thin. I didn’t touch alcohol until I was 18 so my weight was never affected by drinking. In first year uni I was regularly partying and drinking with my friends, working my first job until 12am on weekends and eating late at night - obviously this affected my weight. I eventually signed up for KX pilates - something I used to do regularly with my mum since I was 15. I became super strict about what I ate and my goal was tone up and I enjoyed the process of working hard to get results. Other people started to notice. I remember someone telling me that a guy I knew had said “Wow she has lost so much weight, I would so go there with her now”. Despite the fact I was never interested in this person to begin with, this comment affected me greatly, making me think there was something wrong with how I looked before. I made sure I would never allow myself to get to that point of appearing “fat” or whatever it is that individual perceived me to be again. At times I was way too hard on myself. For a while my “unhealthy snack” would be my daily coffee (which had no sugar) and I would eat very bland food or soups. I eventually realised that this was unhealthy and unnecessary and so I started experimenting with a plethora of vegetarian recipes. KX pilates has become a passion of mine and an important part of my weekly routine. During my change of lifestyle, I have had numerous family members tell me that I look “too skinny”, that I have “lost a lot of weight” and that they are “concerned for me” when all I was doing was trying to be the best version of myself. I remember going to the pharmacy near my house and I said hi to a worker who knows me. She stopped; looked me up and down and said she “didn’t recognise me because I had lost so much weight”. I thought to myself, “If she says she didn’t recognise me, then what did I look like before?” I know that many of these people do not have ill-intent behind these comments, however the outcome is still the same. As a woman, it feels as though no matter what you do you will never be good enough to live up to everyone else’s standards. You’re always too this or too that. I have stopped allowing people to make me feel ashamed of what I look like because I do not exercise for anyone else - I do it for me. Therefore the commentary from others - no matter the intent - is irrelevant. Unfortunately not everyone gets to a place of self-acceptance and I have witnessed first hand how extremely damaging these comments can be... So I implore everyone to choose their words carefully and understand that it is actually not your place to comment on or question someone’s physical appearance or weight. Although I don’t feel like I owe anyone an explanation, for me, exercise and eating well is genuinely about feeling healthy and being the best version of myself NOT a number on a scale. I hope everyone can be the best version of themselves - whatever that may mean for you. Submission 6: Laughing It Off Anonymous I was heavier when I was in my early teen years and this one guy came up to me everyday for a year, slapped my "man" boobs around and shouted "chunky", putting on a voice. I laughed it off at the time because I didn't feel like I could say anything. Submission 7: Untitled @cloverbluecowboy I cannot remember the moment I realised I was (am) fat. Only that I was small, and that it was strange to feel hated for it. To be young and made ugly for lacking the athletic physique of a child from a country town. To no longer be whittled and instead be weighty. Thank God for your brain! To be young, fat and have any sense of sexuality beaten out of my gut before I could grasp it - where is my sense of desire? Who can hold me when I'm too big for both hands? Everyone! And you will still be worthy of the space between. To be fat feminine and act is to be comic. Point me in a direct which proves me wrong. I sit and write reflective essays for acting courses screaming, “Finally! I feel in my body like the actors!”, and yet I continue to look nothing like them. They are lean and taunt. And it is not their fault - they are no more or less ugly or beautiful for it. But I lay and watch thinner friends fret over becoming fat, only to wonder, "If this is your fear, what do you think of me"? Have I always lived as the monster under your bed? Have I simply learnt how to dress for them and offer the silhouette they want from me? Do I really not mind if the waist is synched? Do I live a life of female impersonation in this malleable body? Who let my mother dress me in low-rise skinny jeans?! And does she hate me for living in the body she gave me? For years I lived in shapeless bags and forgot that I had a body. I felt housed in a terrible tension of a stretched skin prison and chose to pretend I didn’t live there. Now I know my body to be a canvas - stretch the skin across my hollow-boned structure like a holy yurt and invite everyone I trust to my house-warming party. Feel the floorboards on my stomach flex with anxious comfort as they step inside. Become an ornate fixture of meaningless scribbles and sentimental movement. I live as fluid instillation and dress as a personal God. I am grasped with attracted intent and grasp back the same. I love character face and have character face. I see myself in others and love it. If you or someone you know is struggling, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, we highly recommend these resources: Butterfly Foundation: (+61) 1800 334 673 Lifeline: (+61) 13 11 14 Eating Disorders Victoria: (+61) 1300 550 236 We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection in our community. We would like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other First Nations people who have read this article. Thank you to everyone who submitted pieces to us. Our inbox is always open if you need to talk. If you would like to submit your own piece, contact us at info@wildoatsrecords.net Article first published 10 September 2020. Illustrations by Ella Clair. Submission 4 artwork by Hannah Potter. Written and edited by Ella Clair. Additional edits by Jake Amy.

  • Your Stories: Body Image (Pt. II)

    By Ella Clair and Jake Amy CW: eating disorders, abuse, body dysmorphia At the start of August, the Attaboi team put out an invitation for you to share with us your experiences with your own body image. The submissions we received demonstrate the vast complexities and intricate nuances of people’s relationships with their bodies. Touching on intersections of invisible illnesses, bullying, representation, racism, appropriation, career pressures and mental and physical health, these stories are compelling, raw and at times hard to read. Thank you so much for trusting us with your words. Your voices deserve to be heard and forge open a space for further conversations surrounding body image online and within our day to day lives. Submission 4: Galatea @hannahpots holds her in their dirty hands so they can play pretend eager to unfold it soft body moulded incised apologies eroded they carve her breath there’s almost nothing left their bonsai Aphrodite they found her words to bend lips to mend without an end Our bodies have been sold to us as "clickbait", our desirability as power and our attractiveness as commodity... Under patriarchal and capitalist structures, feelings of worthlessness manifest when you don’t look as consumable and marketable as you are told to be. Everything womxn are sold is targeted towards looking more digestible for male consumption and as a result this is what we (as a collective) consume. This is not a new structure. The ancient Greek story of Pygmalion reflected a familiar narrative and was even adapted into a makeover style film titled My Fair Lady in 1939, wherein Eliza Dolittle is transformed into a "lady". In the original story, Pygmalion is a sculptor and king of Cyprus who carves an ivory statue of a maiden, named Galatea. Galatea is so perfect that he falls in love with her. He then prays to Aphrodite to make her human (because you know, none of the other maidens could ever be as perfect) and she grants his wish. I do love that story without the ending though, because screw that guy… Most likely, everyone can resonate with looking into the mirror and picking themselves apart with insecurities. Sucking in your belly, tensing muscles, arching your back to give an illusion of a bigger bum and squeezing your sides to make your waist smaller. When you stare at a word for too long, it doesn’t look right. When you stare at yourself in the mirror for too long, you run the risk of doing the same. I don’t feel like I’m the most attractive person in a bar, nor am I immune to poking, prodding and warping my body in the mirror but... I can’t say I’ve ever experienced discrimination because of my body or skin. I am a size 10, able-bodied, white girl with what’s considered to be a feminine figure. Generally, society has never told me that my body is wrong. No matter how I feel about myself, no matter how much I critique myself, and no matter how shitty I may feel about myself, I have to accept that my genetics afford me privilege. Acknowledging that how "attractive" the general public perceives me to be has everything to do with how people treat me was difficult. I mostly wanted to write a lot of things off as they liked my "personality" (I know how annoying that sounds) when the reality is they may have liked my personality, but my approachability has everything to do with societal and patriarchal bias**. Another reason this was difficult to accept was that part of me thinks that accepting "attractiveness privilege" means I am automatically calling people who don’t look like me "unattractive" with which I wholeheartedly disagree. However, it’s more about understanding how my actions and thoughts on my own body affect those around me. I can be subject to the pressures of feeling not thin enough, falling into self-deprecatory fat-shaming when I see an "unflattering" photo of myself or mentally congratulating myself for skipping meals or not feeling hungry. Even though it is directed towards my own body, I have to fight it because my internalised fatphobia not only is unhealthy, in so many ways, it reinforces everything I claim to be against. I was called out for this behaviour by someone very close to me. I would never think or say any of these things about anyone else but how the hell is someone my size or larger going to feel hearing that I feel gross in a bikini? It most likely isn’t comfortable. We shape ourselves into their* Galatea so that they will love us and consume us so that we feel like we are worth something. This is heavily embedded into the way we think, and it’s important to not beat yourself (or others) up for parts of you that don’t or do fit into their* "desirable" category. Beauty is a cultural construct, and you will always be better whole. *they/their = patriarchy, capitalism, colonial structures **conscious and unconscious Submission 5: Not Your Place To Comment @evelynemandoukos As a teen I was always active and relatively thin. I didn’t touch alcohol until I was 18 so my weight was never affected by drinking. In first year uni I was regularly partying and drinking with my friends, working my first job until 12am on weekends and eating late at night - obviously this affected my weight. I eventually signed up for KX pilates - something I used to do regularly with my mum since I was 15. I became super strict about what I ate and my goal was tone up and I enjoyed the process of working hard to get results. Other people started to notice. I remember someone telling me that a guy I knew had said “Wow she has lost so much weight, I would so go there with her now”. Despite the fact I was never interested in this person to begin with, this comment affected me greatly, making me think there was something wrong with how I looked before. I made sure I would never allow myself to get to that point of appearing “fat” or whatever it is that individual perceived me to be again. At times I was way too hard on myself. For a while my “unhealthy snack” would be my daily coffee (which had no sugar) and I would eat very bland food or soups. I eventually realised that this was unhealthy and unnecessary and so I started experimenting with a plethora of vegetarian recipes. KX pilates has become a passion of mine and an important part of my weekly routine. During my change of lifestyle, I have had numerous family members tell me that I look “too skinny”, that I have “lost a lot of weight” and that they are “concerned for me” when all I was doing was trying to be the best version of myself. I remember going to the pharmacy near my house and I said hi to a worker who knows me. She stopped; looked me up and down and said she “didn’t recognise me because I had lost so much weight”. I thought to myself, “If she says she didn’t recognise me, then what did I look like before?” I know that many of these people do not have ill-intent behind these comments, however the outcome is still the same. As a woman, it feels as though no matter what you do you will never be good enough to live up to everyone else’s standards. You’re always too this or too that. I have stopped allowing people to make me feel ashamed of what I look like because I do not exercise for anyone else - I do it for me. Therefore the commentary from others - no matter the intent - is irrelevant. Unfortunately not everyone gets to a place of self-acceptance and I have witnessed first hand how extremely damaging these comments can be... So I implore everyone to choose their words carefully and understand that it is actually not your place to comment on or question someone’s physical appearance or weight. Although I don’t feel like I owe anyone an explanation, for me, exercise and eating well is genuinely about feeling healthy and being the best version of myself NOT a number on a scale. I hope everyone can be the best version of themselves - whatever that may mean for you. Submission 6: Laughing It Off Anonymous I was heavier when I was in my early teen years and this one guy came up to me everyday for a year, slapped my "man" boobs around and shouted "chunky", putting on a voice. I laughed it off at the time because I didn't feel like I could say anything. Submission 7: Untitled @cloverbluecowboy I cannot remember the moment I realised I was (am) fat. Only that I was small, and that it was strange to feel hated for it. To be young and made ugly for lacking the athletic physique of a child from a country town. To no longer be whittled and instead be weighty. Thank God for your brain! To be young, fat and have any sense of sexuality beaten out of my gut before I could grasp it - where is my sense of desire? Who can hold me when I'm too big for both hands? Everyone! And you will still be worthy of the space between. To be fat feminine and act is to be comic. Point me in a direct which proves me wrong. I sit and write reflective essays for acting courses screaming, “Finally! I feel in my body like the actors!”, and yet I continue to look nothing like them. They are lean and taunt. And it is not their fault - they are no more or less ugly or beautiful for it. But I lay and watch thinner friends fret over becoming fat, only to wonder, "If this is your fear, what do you think of me"? Have I always lived as the monster under your bed? Have I simply learnt how to dress for them and offer the silhouette they want from me? Do I really not mind if the waist is synched? Do I live a life of female impersonation in this malleable body? Who let my mother dress me in low-rise skinny jeans?! And does she hate me for living in the body she gave me? For years I lived in shapeless bags and forgot that I had a body. I felt housed in a terrible tension of a stretched skin prison and chose to pretend I didn’t live there. Now I know my body to be a canvas - stretch the skin across my hollow-boned structure like a holy yurt and invite everyone I trust to my house-warming party. Feel the floorboards on my stomach flex with anxious comfort as they step inside. Become an ornate fixture of meaningless scribbles and sentimental movement. I live as fluid instillation and dress as a personal God. I am grasped with attracted intent and grasp back the same. I love character face and have character face. I see myself in others and love it. If you or someone you know is struggling, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, we highly recommend these resources: Butterfly Foundation: (+61) 1800 334 673 Lifeline: (+61) 13 11 14 Eating Disorders Victoria: (+61) 1300 550 236 We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection in our community. We would like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other First Nations people who have read this article. Illustrations by Ella Clair. Submission 4 artwork by Hannah Potter.

  • Your Stories: Body Image (Pt. I)

    By Ella Clair CW: Eating disorders, body dysmorphia, self harm, suicide At the start of August, the Attaboi team put out an invitation for you to share with us your experiences with your own body image. The submissions we received demonstrate the vast complexities and intricate nuances of people’s relationships with their bodies. Touching on intersections of invisible illnesses, bullying, representation, racism, appropriation, career pressures and mental and physical health, these stories are compelling, raw and at times hard to read. Thank you so much for trusting us with your words. Your voices deserve to be heard and forge open a space for further conversations surrounding body image online and within our day to day lives. Submission 1: Being Black is Beautiful @lefleur.music I’ve found that stories of BIPOC navigating predominantly white spaces all have such similar narratives and underlying issues. For me, in regards to body image; growing up in Australia was a very uncomfortable experience that ultimately led to a lot of self-hatred. The prejudice and racism start young, but given this country's history, I can't say I’m overly surprised, unfortunately. Tokenism has been a recurring theme through my experience, and there were always constant comments (some well-intentioned, others not) on my "womanly" figure from a very young age. My hair has also been a huge point of contention for me; ridiculed for having "poodle hair" if I wore it natural, but similarly humiliated and called stereotypical names if I wore a protective style like box braids. Following some of these experiences, I spent years trying to erase my blackness. It took a few years to reconnect with myself, decolonize my mind and unpack internalised ideas of what beauty should ‘look like’. The irony isn’t lost on me that now being black is ~trendy~: the very things I was bullied for are considered desirable on white bodies; ...a rise in Brazilian butt lifts, fillers and appropriation of hairstyles such as cornrows and box braids. With all that being said, I still need to actively recognise my privilege of being a light-skinned biracial black woman as being half-white has actively benefited me as well. We need to celebrate blackness. Being black is beautiful, being black is a blessing and ideas of European beauty being the default need to be dismantled. Submission 2: A Body with a Story to Tell @mcalice_ I’m really passionate about being an advocate for invisible illnesses and disabilities. From the outside, I am someone whose body looks healthy and "normal", but on the inside, my body tells a different story. Some days I find something as simple as walking a very difficult and taxing task - physically and mentally. This has led to a love/hate relationship with my body, the tubes that kept it alive and the scars that changed my life. In so-called Australia, I am yet to see these bodies shown. Bodies with marks, scars and mobility aids. I think there is something so undeniably beautiful about a body with a story to tell. I am proud of the uniqueness of my body and how it works differently. I wish more people could see disabilities in the way I see them. Submission 3: Living with Bulimia Nervosa and Body Dysmorphia as a Musician Anonymous It’s late 2018 and I’m lying on the examination bed in a radiology clinic, staring up at the holes in the ceiling. This has become my new normal, having multiple appointments per week while trying to balance a busy life. It feels like a big shameful secret - not many people know or would guess by looking at me that I have so many health issues, and I’m scared to tell people. I have recently developed a chronic pain condition and am finding it difficult to concentrate, my hair is falling out, I’m constantly anxious and constantly have a sore throat, on top of that some of my teeth are rotting and I've started experiencing issues with my heart. I take a deep breath in and think about how all of the ceilings in these places look exactly the same. From all other angles I appeared to be a happy, healthy young person who was about to graduate from university and had an established, growing career in music. How had it come to this? The truth is that this had been going on for years, I was just so in denial. And honey, I had a big storm comin’. My eating disorder (ED) began when I was 12 years old, though I didn’t begin to accept I had a problem until I was about 19. It started out with restricting my meals and exercising a few extra times a week, and gradually developed to going days without food, self harming, binge eating, and purging. Looking back, I was actually a very active and healthy kid. I played a few sports at school and swam or rode my bike with other kids in my neighbourhood every day. One of my parents had worked in nutrition so I ate well and really enjoyed food. It’s hard to pinpoint, but I would say my ED started to develop because I had an extremely turbulent, abusive and volatile home life and found it hard to fit in with the kids at my school, plus we moved around a lot. The only places I felt safe were at the pool or at my school’s library. I barely had any autonomy, safe space or validation as a young child, and this had led me to want to have some control. I had an intense need to be perfect. I thought that if I was perfect then everything would get better, and everybody would love me. As it often happens with eating disorders, I became very good at hiding my behaviours and became very secretive, and so this craving for perfection grew. My adolescent years were extremely unhappy. I was constantly buying into diet culture, reading problematic magazines and discovered "thinspo" blogs. I reckon that if you asked me for the amount of calories in any food when I was 14, I would have known the answer in a split second. I memorised all of this information - diet tips, exercise/workout routines, make up that made you look slimmer, my weight and body measurements. I constantly wrote out my plans in my diary, detailing how I would achieve my weight loss goals, as well as recording every single calorie I ate that day. I was too scared to eat in public, and wouldn’t order anything substantial at family meals whenever we ate out. It was just a pure obsession that I couldn’t ignore. In high school I realised that my passion in life was music and that I wanted to pursue it as a career. This became an extremely difficult conversation between my parents and I, who were very unsupportive at the time. Again, I felt like I was losing control of my decisions in life and this fuelled the bulimia even more. I spent my days at school working hard but barely eating, and then got home, raided the pantry and binge ate. Then I would work out or go on long runs to burn all the food off, and after a long shower I would lock myself in my room, play guitar and sing. Even though this daily routine made me feel absolutely miserable, it simultaneously felt so good feeling like I was in control, and holding onto the hope that I was going to lose an obscene amount of weight and instantly be popular, successful and beautiful. I spent hours late into the night reading through fitness and thinspo blogs, and saving pictures to keep myself motivated - a somewhat morbid looking collection that I didn’t end up deleting until I was 22. I was borderline anaemic, fatigued and extremely depressed. I thought that once I got out of my hometown and moved to the city for uni everything would change and I could be a different person, a better person. Spoiler alert: things did not change. My second year of uni was when my eating disorder was living its best life. It had truly taken over every aspect of my life with no signs of stopping. I was drinking up to 8 coffees a day to get through all my classes, practise and rehearsals. My grades were terrible, and I would usually get way too drunk at social events and make huge fool of myself. My go-to dinner before a gig was a red bull and a lollipop, or a piece of red liquorice. When I was getting ready to go onstage I would so often cry when I looked at myself in the mirror. I truly hated my body. Being a frontline musician is so incredibly difficult to deal with negative body image and low self esteem. I dealt with an unholy amount of body dysmorphia through the early stages of my performance career. I was constantly out of money, spending way too much of my budget on food, most of which I would eventually purge out my body. I tried out several diets, all of them extremely restrictive and leaving me with barely any energy. After years of this abuse against my body, I just gave up. I was so burnt out and couldn’t do it anymore, I could barely get out of bed let alone have enough energy for a gig. I wanted to stop but just didn’t know how. When I was 21, I got some help from my therapist, who referred me to an outpatient program. With a little hesitation I booked myself in and the treatment lasted for nearly a year and a half. It was really intense, turbulent, confronting and emotional, but I was getting so much better. The comparison between my life then and now is honestly hard to put into words. I’m still not 100% "cured", but there is a huge difference. I managed to stop purging a year into treatment, my energy has come back, I feel happier and healthier than I have in years, and I’m able to play more gigs and be present and energetic on stage. Once you harness the fear, there is something so immensely empowering in putting on your favourite outfit and going out for a meal purely for the pleasure of it, knowing it is nourishing your body and helping the process along. When I started my recovery journey I opened up to more of my friends, family and coworkers about what had been going on. Some of the responses I got taught me a lot about how we view eating disorders on a societal level. Someone once said, "But you don’t look like you have an eating disorder", and that has been one that has always stuck with me. In my experience, people still don’t seem to know enough about eating disorders, so I want to finish off my story by ruling out some common misconceptions with these points: People don’t have to be very skinny or emaciated in order to be incredibly sick. Eating disorders don’t discriminate, and can affect anyone regardless of gender, though a common misconception is that they only affect women or young girls. There is more than one type of eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa seems to be the one that people know most about, or at least have heard of. Bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder,  ARFID (avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder) and other disorders also exist and are just as serious. Ok, maybe this one’s a bit of a rant: eating disorders are not glamorous. I am filled to the brim with sheer exhaustion because of the amount of times I have seen eating disorders romanticised in the media, casually spoken about, or even joked about in public or in social settings. These are serious illnesses we’re talking about, folks! The effects caused by/linked to eating disorders include but are not limited to: sleep apnea, muscle weakness, hair loss, tooth decay, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, low heart rate, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, malnutrition, pancreatitis, and many more. Suicide is often linked to eating disorders, and can be a major cause of death amongst sufferers, and Anorexia Nervosa statistically has the highest death rate of any mental illness. I hope one day I’ll be ready to share this publicly, with my name attached to it, but for now it’s still too scary. I hope it makes sense to someone out there and helps them to know that they are not alone. If you’ve read this far, thank you. If you are struggling with similar issues, I encourage you to reach out to someone you love and trust, and know that support is out there. Recovery is possible, and I stand with you. If you or someone you know is struggling, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, I highly recommend these resources: Eating Disorders Victoria: (+61) 1300 550 236 Butterfly Foundation: (+61) 1800 33 4673 Lifeline: 13 11 14 We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection in our community. We would like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other First Nations people who have read this article. Thank you to everyone who submitted pieces to us. Our inbox is always open if you need to talk. If you would like to submit your own piece, contact us at info@wildoatsrecords.net Article first published 6 September 2020. Illustrations by Ella Clair. Written and edited by Ella Clair. Edited by Jake Amy.

  • Your Stories: Body Image (Pt. I)

    By Ella Clair and Jake Amy CW: Eating disorders, body dysmorphia, self harm, suicide At the start of August, the Attaboi team put out an invitation for you to share with us your experiences with your own body image. The submissions we received demonstrate the vast complexities and intricate nuances of people’s relationships with their bodies. Touching on intersections of invisible illnesses, bullying, representation, racism, appropriation, career pressures and mental and physical health, these stories are compelling, raw and at times hard to read. Thank you so much for trusting us with your words. Your voices deserve to be heard and forge open a space for further conversations surrounding body image online and within our day to day lives. Submission 1: Being Black is Beautiful @lefleur.music I’ve found that stories of BIPOC navigating predominantly white spaces all have such similar narratives and underlying issues. For me, in regards to body image; growing up in Australia was a very uncomfortable experience that ultimately led to a lot of self-hatred. The prejudice and racism start young, but given this country's history, I can't say I’m overly surprised, unfortunately. Tokenism has been a recurring theme through my experience, and there were always constant comments (some well-intentioned, others not) on my "womanly" figure from a very young age. My hair has also been a huge point of contention for me; ridiculed for having "poodle hair" if I wore it natural, but similarly humiliated and called stereotypical names if I wore a protective style like box braids. Following some of these experiences, I spent years trying to erase my blackness. It took a few years to reconnect with myself, decolonize my mind and unpack internalised ideas of what beauty should ‘look like’. The irony isn’t lost on me that now being black is ~trendy~: the very things I was bullied for are considered desirable on white bodies; ...a rise in Brazilian butt lifts, fillers and appropriation of hairstyles such as cornrows and box braids. With all that being said, I still need to actively recognise my privilege of being a light-skinned biracial black woman as being half-white has actively benefited me as well. We need to celebrate blackness. Being black is beautiful, being black is a blessing and ideas of European beauty being the default need to be dismantled. Submission 2: A Body with a Story to Tell @mcalice_ I’m really passionate about being an advocate for invisible illnesses and disabilities. From the outside, I am someone whose body looks healthy and "normal", but on the inside, my body tells a different story. Some days I find something as simple as walking a very difficult and taxing task - physically and mentally. This has led to a love/hate relationship with my body, the tubes that kept it alive and the scars that changed my life. In so-called Australia, I am yet to see these bodies shown. Bodies with marks, scars and mobility aids. I think there is something so undeniably beautiful about a body with a story to tell. I am proud of the uniqueness of my body and how it works differently. I wish more people could see disabilities in the way I see them. Submission 3: Living with Bulimia Nervosa and Body Dysmorphia as a Musician Anonymous It’s late 2018 and I’m lying on the examination bed in a radiology clinic, staring up at the holes in the ceiling. This has become my new normal, having multiple appointments per week while trying to balance a busy life. It feels like a big shameful secret - not many people know or would guess by looking at me that I have so many health issues, and I’m scared to tell people. I have recently developed a chronic pain condition and am finding it difficult to concentrate, my hair is falling out, I’m constantly anxious and constantly have a sore throat, on top of that some of my teeth are rotting and I've started experiencing issues with my heart. I take a deep breath in and think about how all of the ceilings in these places look exactly the same. From all other angles I appeared to be a happy, healthy young person who was about to graduate from university and had an established, growing career in music. How had it come to this? The truth is that this had been going on for years, I was just so in denial. And honey, I had a big storm comin’. My eating disorder (ED) began when I was 12 years old, though I didn’t begin to accept I had a problem until I was about 19. It started out with restricting my meals and exercising a few extra times a week, and gradually developed to going days without food, self harming, binge eating, and purging. Looking back, I was actually a very active and healthy kid. I played a few sports at school and swam or rode my bike with other kids in my neighbourhood every day. One of my parents had worked in nutrition so I ate well and really enjoyed food. It’s hard to pinpoint, but I would say my ED started to develop because I had an extremely turbulent, abusive and volatile home life and found it hard to fit in with the kids at my school, plus we moved around a lot. The only places I felt safe were at the pool or at my school’s library. I barely had any autonomy, safe space or validation as a young child, and this had led me to want to have some control. I had an intense need to be perfect. I thought that if I was perfect then everything would get better, and everybody would love me. As it often happens with eating disorders, I became very good at hiding my behaviours and became very secretive, and so this craving for perfection grew. My adolescent years were extremely unhappy. I was constantly buying into diet culture, reading problematic magazines and discovered "thinspo" blogs. I reckon that if you asked me for the amount of calories in any food when I was 14, I would have known the answer in a split second. I memorised all of this information - diet tips, exercise/workout routines, make up that made you look slimmer, my weight and body measurements. I constantly wrote out my plans in my diary, detailing how I would achieve my weight loss goals, as well as recording every single calorie I ate that day. I was too scared to eat in public, and wouldn’t order anything substantial at family meals whenever we ate out. It was just a pure obsession that I couldn’t ignore. In high school I realised that my passion in life was music and that I wanted to pursue it as a career. This became an extremely difficult conversation between my parents and I, who were very unsupportive at the time. Again, I felt like I was losing control of my decisions in life and this fuelled the bulimia even more. I spent my days at school working hard but barely eating, and then got home, raided the pantry and binge ate. Then I would work out or go on long runs to burn all the food off, and after a long shower I would lock myself in my room, play guitar and sing. Even though this daily routine made me feel absolutely miserable, it simultaneously felt so good feeling like I was in control, and holding onto the hope that I was going to lose an obscene amount of weight and instantly be popular, successful and beautiful. I spent hours late into the night reading through fitness and thinspo blogs, and saving pictures to keep myself motivated - a somewhat morbid looking collection that I didn’t end up deleting until I was 22. I was borderline anaemic, fatigued and extremely depressed. I thought that once I got out of my hometown and moved to the city for uni everything would change and I could be a different person, a better person. Spoiler alert: things did not change. My second year of uni was when my eating disorder was living its best life. It had truly taken over every aspect of my life with no signs of stopping. I was drinking up to 8 coffees a day to get through all my classes, practise and rehearsals. My grades were terrible, and I would usually get way too drunk at social events and make huge fool of myself. My go-to dinner before a gig was a red bull and a lollipop, or a piece of red liquorice. When I was getting ready to go onstage I would so often cry when I looked at myself in the mirror. I truly hated my body. Being a frontline musician is so incredibly difficult to deal with negative body image and low self esteem. I dealt with an unholy amount of body dysmorphia through the early stages of my performance career. I was constantly out of money, spending way too much of my budget on food, most of which I would eventually purge out my body. I tried out several diets, all of them extremely restrictive and leaving me with barely any energy. After years of this abuse against my body, I just gave up. I was so burnt out and couldn’t do it anymore, I could barely get out of bed let alone have enough energy for a gig. I wanted to stop but just didn’t know how. When I was 21, I got some help from my therapist, who referred me to an outpatient program. With a little hesitation I booked myself in and the treatment lasted for nearly a year and a half. It was really intense, turbulent, confronting and emotional, but I was getting so much better. The comparison between my life then and now is honestly hard to put into words. I’m still not 100% "cured", but there is a huge difference. I managed to stop purging a year into treatment, my energy has come back, I feel happier and healthier than I have in years, and I’m able to play more gigs and be present and energetic on stage. Once you harness the fear, there is something so immensely empowering in putting on your favourite outfit and going out for a meal purely for the pleasure of it, knowing it is nourishing your body and helping the process along. When I started my recovery journey I opened up to more of my friends, family and coworkers about what had been going on. Some of the responses I got taught me a lot about how we view eating disorders on a societal level. Someone once said, "But you don’t look like you have an eating disorder", and that has been one that has always stuck with me. In my experience, people still don’t seem to know enough about eating disorders, so I want to finish off my story by ruling out some common misconceptions with these points: People don’t have to be very skinny or emaciated in order to be incredibly sick. Eating disorders don’t discriminate, and can affect anyone regardless of gender, though a common misconception is that they only affect women or young girls. There is more than one type of eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa seems to be the one that people know most about, or at least have heard of. Bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder,  ARFID (avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder) and other disorders also exist and are just as serious. Ok, maybe this one’s a bit of a rant: eating disorders are not glamorous. I am filled to the brim with sheer exhaustion because of the amount of times I have seen eating disorders romanticised in the media, casually spoken about, or even joked about in public or in social settings. These are serious illnesses we’re talking about, folks! The effects caused by/linked to eating disorders include but are not limited to: sleep apnea, muscle weakness, hair loss, tooth decay, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, low heart rate, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, malnutrition, pancreatitis, and many more. Suicide is often linked to eating disorders, and can be a major cause of death amongst sufferers, and Anorexia Nervosa statistically has the highest death rate of any mental illness. I hope one day I’ll be ready to share this publicly, with my name attached to it, but for now it’s still too scary. I hope it makes sense to someone out there and helps them to know that they are not alone. If you’ve read this far, thank you. If you are struggling with similar issues, I encourage you to reach out to someone you love and trust, and know that support is out there. Recovery is possible, and I stand with you. If you or someone you know is struggling, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, I highly recommend these resources: Eating Disorders Victoria: (+61) 1300 550 236 Butterfly Foundation: (+61) 1800 33 4673 Lifeline: 13 11 14 We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection in our community. We would like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other First Nations people who have read this article. Illustrations by Ella Clair

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