Today, Britain Uncovered is speaking with Verity Pitts, founder of The Body Confidence Issue, about how her channel is promoting self-acceptance and helping people to overcome their body hang-ups. We also look back on Verity’s body positivity journey over the last 12 months, which started with participation in Sophie Tea’s ‘Send Nudes’ event last December.
Britain Uncovered: Hi Verity! We first crossed paths at Sophie Tea’s ‘Send Nudes’ launch party back in December 2019. Along with a showcase of Sophie’s art adorning the walls, the event also included a nude catwalk featuring models – yourself included – who had been painted by the artist earlier in the day. Could we please start off by asking how you found out about the event, and what it was that made you want to take part?
Verity: Hi, yes we did! I first found out about Sophie’s event back in November 2019 just through her Instagram, but I didn’t really sign up until after I came out of the hospital. That same month, I developed a kidney infection in which the infection went into to my blood, and I developed sepsis. I went into sepsis shock and almost died, and when I came out of hospital, my whole outlook changed. I just decided 'fuck it’ – do something that’s going to build you, help you, and build on your self-love and self-image!
Britain Uncovered: The evening was a huge success (much like anything Sophie Tea touches), and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that for many participants, it was a genuinely life-changing occasion. What was your experience like on the day, and how were you able to overcome any nerves you may have had going into the event?
Verity: Oh absolutely, it changed my life, gave me friends for life and provided me with a newfound confidence too. This has helped to build who I am, and it gives me something to look back on and makes me so proud!
I remember meeting everyone in the little café next door and genuinely feeling like I might just shit myself! Thank god I arranged to meet Wendy and Claire at the station first! I think everyone would agree that we just hyped each other up; one minute we knew nothing about each other, and the next minute we were butt naked HYPING each other up and having fun!
Britain Uncovered: Do you feel as though participation has had a positive, long-lasting impact in terms of both body confidence and overall confidence in general?
Verity: Absolutely. We have built bonds, not just with friends but with our minds, our bodies and our confidence. Our taught self-love is accepting of the fact that we all look different and we aren’t all going to be like Kendall Jenner or the celebrities we see day-to-day on the ‘gram. We as women are taught that having too much confidence is shameful and cocky, but to have too little means we aren’t worthy of it.
It’s a hard game in today’s society and generation. Women are unbelievably powerful when they have confidence, but too many women are scared to have that confidence because of what people will say – and this is really upsetting! However, I feel that everything we did, and what Sophie is doing, is helping to change the perception of self-love, body confidence and confidence in general.
Britain Uncovered: Shortly thereafter, you launched The Body Confidence Issue – an Instagram community where you tackle “lumps, bumps, rolls, unflattering angles and the reality of social media”. It’s an engaging channel that’s gone from strength to strength, and through this, you’re able to educate and empower your followers each and every day. What was behind this initiative, and how much have you enjoyed working on it?
Verity: I don’t want to sound like such a bore, but I was severely bullied about my weight and image during my childhood and throughout all of my educational career, and it impacted me hugely.
I always had such a tiny figure and I became really poorly with food due to being a coeliac, and this impacted my body confidence too because it’s something that I knew nothing about. My body began to fight itself and I just didn’t understand it. Then along came sepsis and I just realised that The Body Confidence Issue became something – it’s a journey to self-love, happiness, and general body confidence for myself just as much as my followers. They see the highs and lows of body confidence, but also the highs and lows of having auto immune illnesses and no immune system. It allows me to vent about how angry I am sometimes that my body just isn’t what it used to be.
I love working on The Body Confidence Issue – it’s building and sometimes I do struggle to post, but it’s just the highs and lows of social media in general. But I have done some awesome collaborations with some big companies and brands, and there are big things to come!
What inspires me every day is when I get men, women, boys and girls in my DMs saying how The Body Confidence Issue has helped them! It just helps let everyone know that they are ENOUGH, and they are doing okay!
Britain Uncovered: In terms of concerns, hang-ups or misinformation about body perception, what are some of the recurring difficulties or anxieties that you are hearing about from your followers? Are there growing frustrations with media depictions of body types, for instance?
Verity: Media perceptions are a huge anxiety that most of my followers all have in common. The growing reality that to be pretty we must be a size six, 5’9 and have curves just doesn’t work. Everyone is unique and that is what makes things so exciting. If we were all the same, life would be boring. We need to start sharing lumps, bumps, illnesses, stretch marks and those outtakes for every picture behind the ‘gram!
People don’t feel good enough either, which makes me really sad – because you are good enough, you are worthy and, most importantly, you are perfect no matter your flaws! I’ll always tell people to listen to ‘Flaws’ by Bastille (listen here) because it shows that no two people deal with their flaws in the same way.
Britain Uncovered: Have there been any surprising or unexpected elements of the project that perhaps you hadn’t anticipated when launching the channel (either positive or negative)?
Verity: I have been so lucky to have had some amazing things happen since launching The Body Confidence Issue. They have been so positive and I feel like it’s a space on the internet that isn’t really around on social media, which I think is really cool and I’m so proud of it!
However, they do say when you start a ‘business’ or a project that you find out who your true friends are. I have to say I really learnt that. I had a very long message from a so-called friend who was like, “No one wants to see your journey or that you’ve been ill, stop making it about you”. That really hit me hard, but then I was like, ‘No, don’t let that impact you’. They do them, you keep doing you!! Life isn’t full of all these positives; negatives will happen and that’s a part of life and that is perfectly acceptable.
Britain Uncovered: A few months after Sophie Tea’s event, you took part in a body positivity photoshoot in Brighton alongside others who had also been involved. What did you make of this modelling experience, and how did it compare and contrast to the aforementioned catwalk?
Verity: This shoot was just as liberating, empowering and fun as the catwalk. It felt easier because it was with people I knew (Lucy and Jessica) and had the same experiences with, and there were a lot less eyes on our bodies!
From all of these events I have done some press articles [including this piece in The Sun] which has been very different because computer trolls and gross old men who are probably sat in their mum’s basement have been writing comments about MY body. But you learn and grow with every opportunity, every experience and every moment in life and I’ll just always feel liberated and empowered when I’m with the girls, no matter what we do.
Britain Uncovered: With the above experiences under your belt, do you now feel more at ease taking part in clothing-optional events such as these, and are they something you would recommend to others seeking to feel more body confident? Or is it still a daunting prospect to a certain degree?
Verity: Honestly, get naked! When reunited with the nudies, we just feel this urge to get naked, but I do have somewhat more confidence in day-to-day life, in body confidence and in myself.
I won’t lie and say I love myself every day, because I really don’t. I do struggle too, but life is a journey. But I have done so much and have had so many opportunities that have really helped me personally! I’ve been skinny-dipping with strangers I met whilst I was on holiday, and for the first time in years, I didn’t shed a tear over myself when I went away, which is a huge achievement!
But I really do suggest getting naked and baring all – it’s unbelievably liberating. I’d say also, start following the likes of Sophie Tea on Instagram, and those who are shaping, changing and creating a new place for body confidence on social media. Start unfollowing those who make you feel pretty shit about yourself, because not everything you see on the ‘gram is real life.
Britain Uncovered: Shifting gears for a moment, lockdown was, of course, a challenging time for many – and staying positive and focused was perhaps more difficult than ever. How was the time for you personally, and what were some of your coping mechanisms and ways of staying positive?
Verity: So 2020 and lockdown for me was life-changing. It made me really look and think as to where I wanted to go in my life, where I want to be, and how to improve my mental health (which isn’t the happiest it could be).
As much as I had learnt a lot and got a job in a supermarket to keep me busy, I became really unwell and I spent two weeks in intensive care in DKA, which is to do with Type 1 diabetes. My life changed again because my pancreas doesn’t work, so I was unbelievably poorly and now I have to inject myself, keep an eye on how I feel, and learn my new way of life.
But it has taught me that yet again that life is unbelievably short and it’s time to put myself first and finally start being happy with my life and creating the life I enjoy living, making memories. I am a huge fan of making memories. I even scrapbooked 2020 and I have changed so much too, which feels incredible. It’s good to look back on when I don’t feel very strong or I’m having a bad day – I can look to it and realise life has thrown some shit at me, and it’s okay to feel how I feel!
Britain Uncovered: Later this year, The Body Confidence Issue and I C ME (a platform which encourages people to post their honest selfies, with depictions and illustrations of the parts of themselves they’re most unhappy with) are set to host a joint event to officially launch both initiatives. What are some of the aims and objectives of the event, and what can attendees expect on the night?
Verity: BIG, BIG, BIG things! Due to Covid we have postponed, but it’s a blessing in disguise. It’s going to be huge – we have photobooths, games, cameras, polaroids and loads more surprises. Big names are coming too, along with the press, which is so exciting! So stay tuned for the invites. We have two shows: one for press/influencers, and then one for the public! It is so exciting and I can guarantee that it will be the biggest event of 2021.
Britain Uncovered: If any of our readers would like to be involved, what’s the best way they can get in touch and find out more information?
Big things are coming up and I really cannot wait to share what’s happening – but for now, you just have to sit tight!