Table Talk: Daniel.

In a bid to diversify some of the views I express, I’ve devised a cunning new plan: get people I know round to my place for a coffee, and talk about things with them, and with their permission, publish them here! So this has brought Table Talk to life.

First up, is Daniel, an old flame and now good friend of mine. He is northern originally, but now lives in London where he has set up his own fashion brand, Daniel James. Because I’ve known him for the best part of 8 years, I know what I can talk to him about, and body image has been a big thing for both of us in that time, and still is in many respects, so here it all is, another view, of the opposite side, of body image issues.

What’s your perception of your current body image?

I’m now very comfortable with the way I look at the moment, compared to how I saw my body a few years ago. I was still the same body type, but now it’s more about working out and improving it, rather than not eating. It’s about rewards, not punishment.

Why do you think you punished yourself? Do you think there was something external influencing that?

Probably. There was quite a lot going on at the time, certain stresses, and that played a part in it. With an eating disorder, there is a certain element of control. People used to say negative things, and I would adopt those views as my own, reinforcing what I was going through, rather than helping me move passed it.

Is that experience exclusive to people with eating disorders do you think?

No, because of what I’ve heard from other people, it can stem from anything. It’s not always about restricting food or overindulging, it can be something completely different. I think it’s perhaps more prevalent in the gay community because the gym is now a bigger thing for people.

Do you think it is strictly something for gay men?

Not entirely. I think it’s a bigger thing because we’re often told that there’s something wrong with us, and that we’re not manly, and as we get older, we view the gym, muscles and working out as a more masculine thing to do.

What about ‘masc’ and ‘femme’ labels in the gay community?

Personally I think it’s quite dangerous, but as can any label. I think for me, it fed into my distorted body image. Looking at things, I’d probably be labelled more as a ‘femme’ person, which has perhaps polarised my views a little bit.

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You post a lot on Instagram, and it’s quite a lot of your body on show, do you find you have a renewed sense of confidence now that you accept your body for what it is?

Definitely. Instagram was a big part of the process of accepting my body for me. It was more about me being okay with putting that much of myself out there for others to see. It’s given me confidence in other areas of my life and that’s a big thing. I’m not bothered about it being received positively or negatively, it’s more about being for me, it’s about having it there, for a wider audience to see and that’s more liberating.

We’ve known each other for a long time, and there is regularly a lack of clothing whilst we’re in each other’s company. Do you think nudity is a good method in which to accept your body and those of other people who are different to your own, like myself?

Yeah. It allows you to break down the barrier of your perception of yourself and others. It helps to me more relaxed around others, because it opens the doors to both of you accepting that there are things each other wishes to change. You can’t be arrogant in those situations, because that is what this all boils down to, if you’re arrogant, you breed the negative aspects of body image issues in yourself and others.

With that being said, is there anything you would seriously change about yourself?

Just my teeth. They are something that I’ve never had any control over, but they can be fixed. It’s just the way they formed and because I know they can be fixed, that’s why I think about them. But I cover my mouth less now when I smile, so it can’t be that big of an issue for me anymore.

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