Monday, 8 March 2010

Body Gossip's Newest Recruits

Giving an accurate first impression of who you are when presenting yourself in an intimate setting is nothing compared with the task of crafting your stage persona. Take it from someone who winged it and consistently got it very, very wrong.

During my time as my singer-songwriter alterego Mis-Dee, my concern lay entirely with how on earth I was going to hit the correct notes when my throat had been damaged irreparably by the constant scratching of fingers nails, or a toothbrush, or a biro. As far as the parts when it was required of me to speak between songs, I simply thought it was enough to be “me but more”.

Unfortunately, “me but more” didn’t portray herself as particularly nice. My friends actively disliked Mis-Dee and Mis-Dee’s friends were people I disliked as soon as I dismounted the stage. Natasha can be a little sarcastic. Mis-Dee was harsh and sometimes verged on cruel. Natasha is proud of her curves. Mis-Dee gave the impression of vanity. Natasha tends to mask difficult or nerve-wracking situations with humour. Mis-Dee made people believe she didn’t give a shit.

The problem was, of course, that it wasn’t Mis-Dee reading the critics’ comments, it was me. Having to read that I was “fat” and “up myself” and had “no humility” took a heavy emotional toll. Especially as these observations were at the expense of anyone even referring to the notes and harmonies I had laboured so hard to perfect.

The music industry is not an environment someone with an eating disorder should ever be subjected to, when healthier people than I was have been reduced to shadows of themselves by the harsh scrutiny to which their bodies were subjected. I could never have been accepted by the media, or by society as Mis-Dee, especially as I couldn’t accept myself.

I do miss some aspects of the music industry, however. As dedicated as I am to the work I do now, there are days when I yearn for the tangible excitement of a live gig, or to be surrounded by people who really understand music, because they live and breathe it, they create it, they are part of it and it is part of them. That’s why I was so happy to be offered the position of music journalist for brand-spanking new magazine Evolve (dedicated to plus-size fashion and whose tag line is “Be Proud: Be You”).

Life, feeling kind, had offered me the opportunity to indulge my passion for music, without embroiling myself in my old life, or having to sacrifice my new one.

It was in this capacity that I was lucky enough to meet Divine Unity, an uber-talented trio of vocalists from London, currently performing on Sundays at Charlotte Street Blues.

I’m in awe of two things about these three ladies – Firstly, their amazing vocal prowess (see my review in Catch-a-Vibe online magazine on 16th March for a more in-depth review) and secondly, their ability to be exactly the same both on and off stage. They are somehow able to convey all their innate loveliness, enthusiasm and contentment in their own skins in their stage personas, an art which I was never able to master myself.

Divine Unity are everything I like about people – they have personality and spirit without being bossy or overbearing. They are feisty but not fierce. They are lovely without being insipid. They radiate youth and health without being preppy and irritating.

They’re also a rare breed in the music industry. We are used to extremes: the insufferably pretentious or the unbearable self-deprecating. We have Lady Gaga parading around in her pants in the red corner and Leona Lewis apologizing for existing in the blue. We have Christina Aguilera ensuring that all attention is diverted from her talent to her mammarys on one hand and Katie Melua in a floor length potato sack pretending sex doesn’t exist on the other.

Divine Unity have great bodies and they wear fashion forward, funky clothes. They somehow manage to tread the wafer-thin line between being proud of your physique and prostituting it. Interviewing them off stage, they talked about self-respect and setting a good example to younger girls. It was then knew they had to become part of Body Gossip. Divine Unity represent everything Body Gossip is about – Confidence, love and respect

Fantaz-magorically, just one short week later, Body Gossip is proud and delighted to have Divine Unity on board with its campaign. Go to www.bodygossip.org/blog to read more about these remarkable ladies.

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