Breaking Mad: a Q&A with the Founders of 'Women Breaking Plates'

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Wellbeing has exploded during the last fifteen years: in the UK, the term was searched ten times more often during February 2019 than it was in February 2004. But wellbeing is evolving, and new, more expressive forms are being ushered in. Women Breaking Plates is a Denver-based empowerment movement which, as the name suggests, encourages women to release their anger and stress by smashing plates inscribed with their insecurities. Senior Strategist in Flamingo’s Futures team, Louise Healy-Adonis, spoke to Women Breaking Plates Founders Aria and Danielle about the next wave of wellbeing.

Louise (L): What drove you to create Women Breaking Plates?

Women Breaking Plates (WBP): We noticed that a lot of women were mad at men: they were feeling victimised and were channelling their anger towards men. We realised this wasn’t really a worthwhile use of energy, though, as you won’t get ahead just by pushing someone else down. So, the WBP movement focusses on the idea that you don’t need to get mad at anyone – in fact that just keeps you in a place of victimisation – and that true empowerment comes from knowing that you don’t need to blame others. We’re putting the power back in women’s hands and helping them to realise that they have the power within them to find their calm. We’re helping them to destress through putting their frustrations on a plate and letting it go; releasing it and making a new choice.

L: How important do you think the act of writing of stressors onto plates before breaking them is?

WBP: When you have a traumatic or negative experience, you feel it through all five of your senses, so we think that it’s important that these experiences are released in an equally sensory way. Of course, there’s a certain amount of healing that can be done through talking therapies, but this approach isn’t for everyone. The feedback that we’ve received from women being able to bring their healing into a physical form has been amazing. They get to hold the plate, they get to throw it and then watch it shatter, all whilst being cheered on! We also have events where we invite women to write their limitations on paper then light them on fire, and another type where we use punching bags; but the common theme between all our events is that they’re physical expressions of psychological pain that encourage acknowledgement and release of feelings. We want women to address the pain that’s circulating in their body and realise that there’s nothing wrong with them.

L: The comradery of these events seems to be a big feature. What are the benefits of this compared to one-to-one sessions?

WBP: Yes, it’s very special to host these group events. Firstly, I think it helps to normalise the conversation around mental wellbeing and shows people that we’re all struggling emotionally on some level. When you put a big group of people in a room together who are all acknowledging their pain, there’s a real sense of belonging and it shows everyone that it’s okay to feel this way. This supporting of each other is great. Women come away feeling that they have been seen and heard. Also, the energy in these events is incredible; there’s such a high vibe in the room and I think that there’s a real benefit to simply coming and being in the energy of the event. You’re surrounded by women going from station to station and intentionally changing negative patterns of behaviour, saying ‘no to this habit, no to this emotion’. This energy of no judgement, no comparison and complete authenticity just permeates the room. The group concept is important because it creates a group consciousness and I found that if you try and heal alone, you really do feel all alone. For these reasons, we’ve always wanted to create a community-based experience. We have thought about smaller sessions, though, such as WBP therapy centres where people can come and work with a coach and punch it out, light it up and shatter plates. This way, it’s a bit more private but they’re still being seen because the coach is there. There needs to be a balance between places where people feel safe to break down and cry and not losing the exciting energy.

L: Traditional wellness practices such as yoga tend to be quite low-tempo, but WBP seems to be a lot more upbeat. What made you want to differentiate in this way?

WBP: Definitely, it’s a party! WBP sees a new wave of healing which is both accessible and exciting. Not everyone gets excited about going to sit and speak to a therapist, but everyone wants to come to the party! Older practises tend to be more serious and heavier, but we’ve seen the incredible therapeutic effects of keeping the atmosphere light, celebratory and positive whilst doing real healing work. Our ‘empowerment parties’ take therapy to the next level – allowing women to express their feelings through their bodies, to express their power. We see it as a fun space – complete with a DJ and a herbal elixir bar – where women can really open themselves up to the possibilities available to them. It’s a doorway to self-understanding.

Women Breaking Plates was featured in the first edition of Flamingo’s quarterly trend report, The Frame. It’s a small indicator of a larger cultural shift, which we have named ‘Omniwellness’. Omniwellness outlines the evolution of the wellbeing category into an influential industry which is shaping everything from food to emotional management. It highlights the emergence of diverse forms of self-betterment, spanning balance, calm, creativity, entrepreneurialism and rage release, which cater to a broad spectrum of physical and emotional needs against a backdrop of spiking anxiety, tech burnout and general instability.

To read more about Omniwellness or to learn how your business could benefit from emerging trends within the wellness category, please contact futures@flamingogroup.com.

To view a taster copy of the Frame or to purchase the full edition, please visit flamingogroup.com/theframe.

Milly LiechtiA