By Sudeeksha Somani, recent 2020 graduate of MA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins.
Body Talk is a platform which aims to spread awareness and break stigmas on body image and mental health through education, helpful resources, open conversations, creativity and collaboration. I have recently launched the first digital issue of the Body Talk Zine!
I graduated after completing my MA Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins in 2020 during the pandemic. With the world in such chaos, mental health problems had skyrocketed and so it felt like the perfect time to launch Body Talk. Originally, Body Talk was a mock platform and idea that I had come up with for my graduating project during my BA studies and I always wanted to publish it to actually help others.
Beauty has been a big part of our society and some major industries in the world. The concept of beauty has been integrated into our subconscious mind from childhood, and as we become adults, we still perceive it the same way. By defining what beauty is, what is most desirable, what it means to be healthy or strong, what a real man is, or how a woman should be, we are creating unrealistic realities, disappointments, discrimination, and bottled up melancholy.
I added mental health to the platform after seeing how far behind India was in talking about it. This is a subject that is saturated with stigma and misinformation even now. Due to India's shame, lack of education and acceptance, there are millions suffering from various mental health issues either unaware of it or in silence. I wanted to work to change this because I believe it is just as important, if not more, than physical health and should be treated as such.
I believe that the role of design is not restricted to the structured fields defined in society. A Designer wears multiple hats and hence can use their thinking and creative skills for almost anything; I want to use it to create an impact and change.
I found that the design community I encountered during lockdown was very responsive and helpful through their various webinars, tips and support which honestly really helped me with confidence and my imposter syndrome and in turn helped me launch my platform.
I first started Body Talk through Instagram to build a community. Creativity is the core because being a Designer myself, I believe art and design have the ability to provoke thought, induce empathy, as well as connect and communicate clearly. Different mediums help in different ways.
Through Instagram, I provide daily advice and share personal stories from this online community, start conversations on various topics, share helpful information on mental health and negative body image, and keep the online community engaged. Most of what I post are works by creatives around the world which connect visually and include the creative community as well.
The dedicated website has podcasts, Ted talks, books, advice from the community, and many more resources to help and support anyone suffering with mental health issues and negative body image. It also has information on Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders and Body Dysmorphia because the first step to break stigmas is education. There is a section on stigmas as well which tells the user the correct facts about the subjects; there is so much misinformation out there that builds on the stigma and stereotypes.
The Body Talk zine, which I hope is the first of many more, is a collection of words and works by creatives all over the world who share their own experiences or talk about different topics under mental health and body image. Through photography, illustration, film, 3D interaction and many more mediums the zine helps continue the conversation.
Due to the large variety of contributions and mediums I received, I decided to make the zine digital as well as physical. Taking advantage of the online medium, I tried to redefine, explore and break boundaries of what digital print can look like, it and how user interaction can help the reader’s experience and understanding. So the digital zine is a series of webpages which have different ways of engaging and communicating with the audience.
An Open Call for Collaborators/Contributors
With the help of the Post-Grad Community, platform I hope to reach a wider audience to help spread awareness and join the community by sharing experiences, questioning things and carrying on the conversation of ways to help and create change. I also want to reach out to creatives and anyone who wants to collaborate with Body Talk to share their expressions and words. Our generation is the future and we can build it how we’d like it to be. Body Talk is more than a platform, it is a movement towards speaking about the uncomfortable yet crucial aspects of life. Whether it is to do with beauty, health, wellness or ideals, our perception and what we do about it is what matters.
A thriving online magazine of our postgraduate student voices sharing thought-provoking experiences, practices, thoughts and articles about what matters to them.
Want to write an article? Get in touch with the Post-Grad Community team PGCommunity@arts.ac.uk