What I learned about body shame from speaking on the TEDx stage

In August I was blessed with the opportunity to speak on the TEDx stage.

Now I am a girl with the gift of the gab.  For whatever the reason I was born without the freak out gene when I have to speak in front of people...so this was a good starting point.

Except that I freaked out. 

Not on the day.  That thankfully went well but it was the process of learning to present a speech that wasn't just off the cuff that threw me.  Each segment had to earn it's merit then I needed to memorize it and present it without notes.

That was the part that had me crapping myself.  Because I can't memorize for squat.  That is also probably why I never considered a career in acting...a script kills me...improv...yep I can do that...memory...nope.   So this was a HUGE stretch.  How do I take something that was meant to be carefully distilled and deliver that and still have the passion in the voice?

How I got there in the first place

Several people involved with Every Body is a Treasure sent me the link to the application.  Catherine really pushed me to fill it in so I thought "What the heck"  Slim chance but I'll give it a crack.

Made the shortlist from well over 100. And went for an interview with DK who was AMAZING.  Now I really wanted to do it but I wasn't sure I had done the golden shield maidens justice.

But lets just say...Golden Boobies.  Who doesn't love those.  We were in!

The first day with the trainers

DK the organizer of TEDx Wellington is a man of a hugely generous spirit.  He also wants to put on one of the best shows around so he makes sure that he gathers three brilliant coaches to work with the speakers.  My coach was Gareth who works with Price Water House Cooper as a coach.

So on the first day all of the speakers in the room got a chance to have the first crack at it.   Their talks were so engaging!!!! It was my turn and I just rifted what my ideas were off the cuff.


I looked around the room and to my trainer and he smiled and said..."Mandi that was passionate...and I think you had about three separate Ted talks in there."  Monica one of the other speakers said, "I think you need a one woman show...I would pay to see that."  Others nodded in agreement.

Cool... but Shit.


The next 5 weeks.

So for the next 5 weeks I wrote.

I practiced.

I edited

I wrote more

I tossed that out

I thrashed it and thrashed it and thrashed it till I had it down to the barest bones I could create from 2 years of my life.

Then I changed it all again after I had the dress rehearsal.


Was it perfect.  Shit no.  But I stood up there and I gave it the best I had in me.

And you know what? When the video finally was sent to me, I watched it again and what I realised was the last vestiges of cultural body shame were still in me...Here I was on stage talking about the life-sucking ability of body shame and part of my mind was saying..."You know what Mandi...I think you have put on a fair amount of weight."  I shit you not.

So I had to sit with that.

I had to honour that.

I had to send myself compassion for having grown up in a society that creates that efficient of mind worms.

See I don't know if that will ever go away.  The stats are clear.  If you diet...long term you will regain the weight or depending on your body type you will gain even more weight than before dieting.  I have a body that is proof of that theory.   And as you grow older you will gain more weight...I think I had my first hotflash the other day.

So the biggest take away I have from all of this is that the only true response I have is to take care of both my mental and physical health in the best way I know how.

Because when you boil down the research that is how you create a life worth living and the strongest body to handle said life.

One of the greatest benefits of jumping into that arena is the community of the other speakers that sprung up around it.  If you want to feel hope for the world please make sure that you check out their talks because they ROCK.