Anti Diet Riot Fest 2020: The Review

Anti Diet Riot Club is a rebellious-spirited community, dedicated to fighting back against ‘Diet Culture’ and the dangerous body and beauty ideals that come with it.

Their events promote and explore concepts such as body acceptance, fat activism, intuitive eating and radical self-love. The events give a platform to the many campaigners, scientists, writers and artists that are themselves fighting for these concepts, to provide practical tools to better the understanding of how to live a more intuitive, diet free, self-accepting life.

Spread across three rooms in Colours Hoxton, the mini festival delivered an inspiring itinerary of talks, panel discussions and creative workshops. Two of our team were involved in the event, one on the ground in a Stage Management role and the other supporting the show as one of the 250+ attendees.

Experience of an attendee

The event kicked off at 9:45am with eager attendees queuing at the door. A foyer brightly dressed and saturated with on brand stalls and creative spaces.

 

My first workshop of the day was Strutology, a body positive dance class designed to help you feel fabulous regardless of your shape or size with the School Of Strut. After initially feeling embarrassed as I struggled to pick up the moves, I was soon put at ease by the instructor’s flamboyancy and began to get what the hype was about…actually feeling sexy whilst having a laugh.

 

Next up, I headed to “The Politics of Ugliness in a Beauty Obsessed World” panel discussion, an in depth talk from a university professor and scientific researcher, activist, social media influencer and the founder of Anti Diet Riot Club. The take home message for me was that a vast change in opinion will only come for future generations if the culture changes, not just the individuals; and to give less F**ks about what you look like, it’s great to wear makeup and engage in fashion if you truly enjoy it, but don’t feed the fire of the patriarchy if you’re just following the heard.

 

To take a breather, I dipped into a protest art making workshop run by Instagram illustrator Rebecca Strickson and made a wall hanging whilst chatting to a bunch of likeminded people.

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Next on the schedule was Race Matters in Body Positivity panel discussion. The talk focused around the true meaning of body positivity. My take home message here was that body positivity is inside and out. It’s about body shape, body size, skin colour and if someone is able bodied or not. But it’s also about the person inside. Their Mental health, physical health, access to medical care, sexual orientation, gender, access to food, access to education and access to a way of exercising. Body positive campaigners are campaigning for the right of all bodies to be included and a few different skin toned women on the cover of Vogue does not reflect true body positivity.

 

Having only lived in London for just under a year and previously living in a very rural area, I have actively been trying to broaden my understanding of different cultures and marginalised groups. With this in mind, I went to see the key note speaker Ericka Hart discussing gender and marginalised groups. Ericka is a queer, non-binary, sex educator, advocate, breast cancer survivor and a professor at the Columbia School of Social Work in the US. She/they engaged fully with the audience, getting us to take part in an exercise; staring into the eyes of the complete stranger sat next to you, in silence, for five minutes whilst she/they asked personal questions to the room such as “What did this person eat for breakfast…if at all?” “Did they have somewhere to sleep last night?” “Do they have a good relationship with their parents?”. This was to prompt the response that even after seeing a person in fine detail or at close proximity, we still don’t know the answers to any of those and that we should keep that in mind when meeting/interacting with anyone for the first time, you just don’t know their story. My take home message from this talk was that in a world that often finds ease in ignorance, choose to educate yourself on the things you don’t understand. You don’t have to start protesting on the subject or actively engaging in that community, but having the understanding brings a level of respect that everyone should strive for.

 

Lastly, I wanted to find out a few good tips for positive goal setting seeming as it’s a new decade and all. Revolutions not resolutions explored topics that included guarding your mental health, avoiding comparison and valuing your own worth. Here’s the tips I came away with:

  • Set good boundaries
  • Do things that make you feel good, for example if you want to exercise choose something you actually enjoy.
  • If you think you ‘Should’ do something, don’t.
  • Find ways to make the world better
  • Your body is not your worth

Experience on the ground

Our Head of Production Yas is very good friends with Anti Diet Riot Club founder Becky, so naturally wanted to help out on the day. Yas took on the role of stage and operational manager for the build, live and de-rig of the event. Yas ensured the speakers were fully briefed on the panel structure and timings of the talk. Quick stage changes were needed to ensure fluid transition from one talk to the next and a change of exit route was implemented to avoid bottle necks in the corridors. Structured ingress and egress routes into each room ensured the safety of the attendants, easy management of the guest list and allowed disabled members of the audience a comfortable and stress-free experience getting in and out of each session. Yas was highly vigilant during the talks and throughout the venue ensuring the videographers, ambassador team and attendees weren’t blocking emergency exit routes.

In summary, the event achieved what it set out to do; Promote and explore concepts around anti-diet culture and bring together a group of open-minded passionate people to inspire mass change. From an operational perspective, the venue lent itself well to the style of event with each room providing a different functionality and atmosphere. Both crowd and speakers were polite and receptive to instructions and the event as a whole ran efficiently.

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