Tia Kofi and Lawrence Chaney unite to tackle growing self-love and mental crisis in LGBTQ+ community

As the nation gears up to celebrate Pride, The Body Shop has today launched a powerful new film starring two of UK’s most sensational Queens in a previously unseen light – The Reverse Roast. The hilarious, yet deeply heartwarming feature sees Lawrence Chaney and Tia Kofi flip the time-honoured Roast tradition on its head. Rather than savage takedowns, the Queens are tasked to build each other up with affirmations of self-love, and compliments of the highest order, as a reminder of just how fabulous we all are – no matter what society may say.

Following the shock of finding out they wouldn’t be ‘Roasting’ in the traditional sense, the Queens initially struggle with giving, and most importantly, receiving, true and meaningful compliments. Over the course of the film, viewers will be delighted to watch as the Queens swiftly warm up and relish in the power of lifting each other up. From ‘your soft and gorgeous eye make-up’ and  ‘being such an amazing singer’ to ‘letting your voice be your voice and letting your talent speak for itself’ the adoration comes pouring. The film ends with the crucial message – ‘when we remind others just how amazing they are, we remind them, to remind themselves.’

The film has been launched as The Body Shop reveals that LGBTQ+ communities in the UK suffer lower levels of self-love than the rest of the population, with more than four in ten of those that identify as LGBTQ+ nearly twice as likely to have low self-love compared to their cisgender and/or heterosexual peers1. Furthermore, the British beauty brand discovered that 46% of LGBT+ people consider themselves a failure, compared with 25% of heterosexual people.

The eye-opening findings are the latest results from the company’s worldwide research –  The Body Shop Global Self Love Index*, which revealed that 40% of LGBTQ+ people worldwide are facing a self-love crisis. The results identified that in those countries facing a self-love crisis* – with one in two people admitting that, on a scale of one to ten, where one is self-loathing and ten is self-love, they were below five – LGBTQ+ communities were among the lowest ranking in every country surveyed.

The LGBTQ+ community is also known to experience mental health issues at greater rates than non-LGBTQ+ counterparts, with half of those that identify as part of the community suffering from depression in the past year2, and two in five experiencing verbal or physical harassment for simply being who they are and for who they love3. Here in the UK, MindOut, a mental health service part of an LGBTQ+ helpline partnership, states that for the last 6 months the partnership has collectively responded to requests for help every 9 minutes. Furthermore, the demand for LGBTQ+ webchat support has doubled since October 2020, demonstrating the growing pressures the pandemic has had on the community.

Additional key findings of The Body Shop’s Global Self-Love Index include:

  • In the UK, 36 per cent of bisexual people are dissatisfied with themselves, compared with an average of 31 per cent for LGBTQ+ people, and only 19 per cent of heterosexual people 
  • Globally, almost half (48 per cent) of LGBTQ+ women rank in the bottom 25 per cent for self-love, compared with 39 per cent of LGBTQ+ men. For heterosexual men and women, the figures are 26 per cent and 25 per cent
  • Over half of LGBTQ+ people across the 22 countries surveyed think they’re “at times no good at all”, compared with 33 per cent of heterosexual people 

The study also shows that whilst family and children are a source of high confidence for heterosexual people, this is not the case for many LGBTQ+ people. Nearly 1 in 4 (37%) of heterosexual people cite family as a source of high confidence; this figure is only 25 per cent for gay and bisexual people. The high rates of homelessness amongst young LGBTQ+ people – who make up 24% of the young homeless population – are often attributed to this lack of support and breakdown of the family unit4.  

Globally, The Body Shop is using the findings to drive a global self-love uprising and create more positive and long-lasting change in the world, particularly for women and girls, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, the two groups disproportionately affected by low levels of self-love. Here in the UK, the British beauty brand is continuing its ongoing partnership with MindOut, providing additional funding to support the growing demand for the organisation’s on-line support service.

Drag Queen and co-star of The Body Shop’s Reverse Roast Challenge Lawrence Chaney said: “Self-Love isn’t something that comes naturally to a lot of people in the LGBTQ+ community and I’ve had my fair share of battles with self-doubt. It’s important to remember to tell the people around you how amazing they are, and if you ever find yourself questioning your own self-worth, look in the mirror and have a moment to appreciate how FABULOUS you are.”

Fellow Drag Queen and co-star of The Body Shop’s Reverse Roast Challenge Tia Kofi added “As much as I love a savage roast, the beauty of a compliment goes a long way, and it was an absolute blast to work alongside one of my closest Queens to build each other up and put self-love in practice. However you are celebrating this Pride season, remember to remind yourself that you are loved, no matter what your age, race, orientation, ability, or gender.”

The Body Shop is calling on LGBTQ+ people to focus on self-love this Pride season and is encouraging anyone outside the LGBTQ+ community to become a better ally – simply by celebrating and reminding their friends and family members within the community of how amazing they truly are. 

Erica Rose, spokesperson from The Body Shop Together LGBTQ+ Network, said: “The Body Shop recognises that everyone is at a different point in their journey to becoming an active ally to the LGBTQ+ community. Whilst progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to be done. This Pride, we’re delighted to work with Lawrence and Tia to inspire everyone to rise up in self-love. We hope this film encourages everyone to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and to listen, support, and engage. Together, we can create a better, more inclusive future.“

Helen Jones, CEO of Mindout, said: “MindOut has been working so hard this last year responding to more requests for help than ever before. Many people’s mental health has been severely affected by the pandemic, and LGBTQ+ communities especially hard hit.  Our out-of-hours online service offers a vital, accessible support service for LGBTQ+ people experiencing mental health issues, open every day.  So many of our callers are suffering alone, living in unsafe housing, feeling suicidal and desperate. The Body Shop’s research into self-love shows what an impact this has on our communities.  It’s wonderful to see stars like Laurence and Tia giving us permission to love ourselves and each other, it’s a brilliant film and we are so grateful to The Body Shop for their continued support for our work.”  

The Body Shop’s Self-Love Uprising aims to inspire 1,000,000 acts of Self-Love in its first year, targeting communities whose Self-Love is under threat. To find out more, please visit the Self-Love Hub here. You can also visit MindOut to find out how you can donate and support your local LGBTQ+ community.

YASS Magazine met TiaKofi behind the scenes and here is all the tea (or coffee):

First question. What are you having right now? Tea or coffee?

Well, the answer to that question must remain a mystery of all time.

How was the Reverse Roast challenge?

Oh, the Reverse Roast was amazing. It was just lovely. Any time I get to spend with Lawrence is lovely because we’re both very busy but we’re very close. So, it’s lovely to catch up with Lawrence, but also just to experience all those wonderful compliments. Because you think lovely things about your friends all the time but you don’t always tell them, you just sort of expect them to know. So, it was nice to hear them from Lawrence and be able to share with all the things thst make Lawrence amazing.
Sometimes we’ve got just a little love and joy into the world.Lawrence and I are really close friends. Following on from the show, any time we get to spend together is lovely. We had a good catch up. Lawrence is absolutely amazing and completely incredible. I love spending time with Lawrence and we talk all the time, usually on WhatsApp or on the phone. It’s nice to be able to see each other in person, and get ready together and have a good catch up.

How important is self love and how necessary is it to give yourself a bit of love every day?

Self love is the most important thing. It is one of those things that people really forget to do, particularly in the LGBTQ+ community. So many of us struggle with self love, and in fact I believe that the survey suggested that 40% of our community really struggle with self love. So it’s so important for us to emphasise and remind everyone how important it is to be able to embrace yourself and love yourself and, also, have that confidence to just really be your authentic self every single day, and put that joy out there into the universe.

That is such a great message. So, what is the message you want to spread through this Body Shop campaign?

I think the key thing about this self love uprising is to encourage people to truly embrace themselves, and love themselves. No matter what you feel your flaws are, they’re all part of what makes us beautiful and unique. And especially this pride season, it really is all about sort of celebrating your individual uniqueness, including the things that make you truly you because we’re all very special in our own ways, and sometimes it’s really hard to see that particularly with everything that’s been happening in the world at the moment we’ve all had a really difficult time through the global health crisis. So, now more than ever. I think this campaign is so essential, and we truly want motivate people and make it a real uprising of self love.

Have you ever suffered from low self esteem or low confidence?

All the time. Didn’t you watch the show? And I think that’s a really normal thing for me. The other element of this is that we do have to sort of acknowledge that people have got those moments where you feel bad about yourself for whatever reason, or you can feel low. And that’s normal. People think that this is something to be hidden, but it’s something that’s really normal and everyone goes through all the time. And that’s another key element here; showing love to other people, reminds them to show love to themselves. And that’s the beautiful thing about the Reverse Roast challenge with Lawrence where we were complimenting each other. And it sort of reminds you of things that you maybe ignore or take for granted, like I reminded Lawrence how amazing makeup artists they are and Lawrence reminded me that he loves all my music and my singing. So, there are things you take for granted and you ignore. Maybe if you remind yourself how amazing you are, you’ll be able to sort of lift yourself out.

What helps you stand on your feet again and start loving yourself again when these dark times of low self esteem or low confidence come?

Yeah, absolutely. And also, something that your friends can really do for you as well is to lift you up and remind you of all of these amazing things. It’s really difficult sometimes because you take each other for granted. We do sort of just expect that everyone everyday knows how incredible they are or knows how amazing they are, but maybe today they didn’t. Just take that time to remind other people so that they can reflect on that and be able to celebrate themselves.

How do you feel with the fact that a lot of people consider you a role model and look up to you for positivity and inspiration?

Oh, it’s, it is overwhelming, but it’s something that I massively embrace. When I was growing up, there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me, who acted like me. So it was really difficult for me when I was young, not seeing myself reflected on screen or on stage. It made it hard for me to sort of understand my place, because I wanted to perform and do all these things, but I never really saw anyone who reminded me of me. And I hope that by sort of being out there and being a role model for other people, there’ll be young people who sort of look at me and see themselves reflected and realise that they can achieve what they want with their lives.

How has your life changed after Drag Race UK?

Oh, it’s been amazing! It’s been an absolute whirlwind. My life has changed quite a lot, but I very much hope that I haven’t changed at all, except maybe I’ve got some nicer wigs now. But, it’s been absolutely incredible; all these opportunities that I’ve had, that I wouldn’t have had without the platform of Drag Race is absolutely amazing, and I hope that I can sort of keep going and keep working hard and keep making everyone proud. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to release music and put that out there. But truthfully, that’s just another element of me trying to spread some love and spread some joy, so, hopefully people are enjoying it and having a good time.

How would you describe yourself?

How would I describe myself. I’m tall. I’m socially awkward, and a geek.

And who are your models and inspirations?

Oh, I have so many different people that I look up to, for lots of different reasons. I love Little Mix and I always look up to the Little Mix girls. Also, as you know from the show, I love a bit of history. So people like Alan Turing are people that I look up to. I just like people who let their energy out there and try and make the world a better place, whether that’s through science and innovation or through spreading messages of empowerment through music, or whether it’s creative people who are writing stories on television. For example, Russell T Davis who brought Dr Who back to the UK is a massive inspiration for me because he tells these incredible queer stories, and really fights to get on TV and has done this for ages ever since. 

What are your future plans?

Oh, my future plans. We’ll be continuing to try and put joy and love out into the universe. Definitely, my plans include more music and keep working hard. I can’t wait to get back out there and get back to proper live shows. Also, I can’t wait for everyone to come back together as a community and be able to go back to live entertainment. I hope everything can adjust to the normality that we remember.

Do you have any other messages for your fans?

Just make sure everyone keeps up with the self love uprising. And remind yourself that you’re amazing.


SELF LOVE MEANING

*Self-love is many things, but it starts with the recognition and appreciation of our inner worth and value.

ABOUT THE BODY SHOP INTERNATIONAL

Founded in 1976 in Brighton, England, by Dame Anita Roddick, The Body Shop is a global beauty brand and a certified B Corp™. The Body Shop seeks to make positive change in the world by offering high-quality, naturally-inspired skincare, body care, hair care and make-up produced ethically and sustainably. Having pioneered the philosophy that business can be a force for good, this ethos is still the brand’s driving force. The Body Shop operates about 3,000 retail locations in more than 70 countries. Along with Aesop, Avon and Natura, The Body Shop is part of Natura &Co, a global, multi-channel and multi-brand cosmetics group that is committed to generating positive economic, social and environmental impact. The four companies that form the group are committed to generating positive economic, social and environmental impact. 

Methodology of The Body Shop’s Global Self Love Index research

The study, devised by The Body Shop and leading market research firmIpsos, ran between November and December 2020 with over 22,000 people, including 1,487 from the LGBTQ+ community, surveyed across 21 different countries. The Self Love Index comprises a number of academic measures of self-worth, wellbeing, and happiness, and reveals how age, gender, country, and living standards impact how people feel about themselves. The survey was fielded for an average of 9 days in each country and took about 16 minutes to complete. Certain demographic questions were not asked in some countries due to sensitivities around cultural norms. Respondents included adults aged 18 and older. 

TBS Together LGBTQ+ Network

The Body Shop’s internal employee LGBTQ+ Network, TBS Together has been the foundation of their external Pride activity, and it was this network that collectively made the decision that the focus of The Body Shop’s Pride campaign in 2021 should be mental health. The network acts as consultants on all Pride messaging, to ensure it always authentically represents the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

ABOUT MINDOUT

MindOut is a mental health service run by and for lesbians, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people. They work to improve the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities and to make mental health a community concern. Every penny you donate will help fund their vital online chat service where LGBTQ people from all over the UK can talk to a trained volunteer via instant messaging. Suicidal distress and loneliness are all-too-common reasons people get in touch and MindOut relies on the generosity of their donors to make these life-saving connections happen.

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