Laura Dockrill, 32, is a performance poet, author, illustrator and short-story writer. After going through her teenage diary to research her latest book, Laura realised how much she had tried to conform to beauty ideals while growing up, despite her immense love for food. Discovering her love for body positivity, Laura wrote coming-of-age story Big Bones, a teenage novel full of self-appreciation, love and gratitude that celebrates the body and Laura’s love for food. Wanting to champion her love for food and show young people that it’s OK to be themselves, it was a natural move for Laura to join the Be Real Campaign as an Ambassador.
“I have always loved food. It’s like my main number one boyfriend. I knew from a young age that I’ll always be that person who won’t be able to chill if there’s a packed of crisps being opened somewhere around me.
“But even I tried to fit in with the crowd when I was younger and tried to look a certain way.
“Reading my teenage diary after all these years was so depressing. It made me feel sad that I said things like ‘I hate myself’ and cut out models from magazines as my ‘body goals’ and what I wanted to look like.
“Writing Big Bones was my way to apologise to my younger self for putting her through hell for absolutely no reason, whether that was by purging or starving myself, just to fit in with the crowd.
“As an adult I have realised that comparison is the biggest devil in this epidemic of not feeling good enough. Everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way.
“I’ve visited many schools over the last couple of years and I’ve been so shocked by how young people are bullying themselves and others. Seeing things like the small waist challenge where young people try to get their waist to be thinner than the size of an A4 paper, or the thigh gap craze, left me feeling gutted for them.
“I think social media has blown bullying out of proportion and we are at a very scary time where kids can ask for ‘Likes’ for Christmas and everything is about how many followers you have or how popular you are. Everybody is comparing their lives through filter lenses. Boys and girls feel like they need to look like this real-life version of an Instagram filter and it’s just not possible. But on a positive note there is this avalanche of girls and boys on the internet that have taken body positivity in their own hands, happily showing off their different bodies and that’s the kind of stuff all young people need to see more of.
“Tackling negative body image starts with increasing our self-esteem. I know it’s not as easy as going to Tesco and buying a bottle of ‘confidence juice’, but it does start within us and by having a good support network around us. If we all protect ourselves by realising that there is no such thing as a ‘good body’, appreciate our bodies because they look after us and make us feel like we can seize the day, that will go a long way. We’re not all professional athletes, we can be mums, dads, artists, astronauts, teachers or whatever we want to be and that’s enough. We don’t need to be putting our bodies under scrutiny or beating ourselves up for having ‘extra’ calories. It’s time to give ourselves a break and be a little nicer to ourselves.”
Do you feel inspired by Laura? Find out how you can become a Be Real Ambassador.