Public discourse that challenges the notion that only some bodies are ‘presentable’ is increasingly commonplace. More BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour) people are seen in advertising and films, and a diversity of gender identities is increasingly represented in a visual, physical sense. But at the same time, young people in particular are confronted with images and perceptions of what constitutes an ‘ideal’ body. Especially on social media, there are countless fitness, beauty, and nutrition influencers presenting the ‘perfect’ body (and all the products that go with it) as a matter of discipline, purchasing power, and stamina. Their promise that this ‘ideal’ is attainable for everyone ends up reproducing social power structures, ignoring the fact that such standards are underpinned by economic inequality, sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism, and ableism.

Lalitha Chamakalayil’s workshop aims to counter the public shaming of bodies (including fat-shaming) and increasingly toxic fitness trends with unrealistic body images. The workshop explores concepts such as body neutrality and the temporarily abled body, demonstrating their specific applications. What possibilities emerge when we take an intersectional perspective on power relations? How can mental health be addressed in relation to questions of body image? How can social media be used in a way that doesn’t ignore these issues but rather actively takes them into consideration? How can these issues be tackled together with young people?