There is a global body confidence revolution happening and Free Being Me is at the heart of it. The programme has not only boosted the body confidence of girls I’ve worked with, but it’s also changed my own life.
As a member of Girlguiding I have been involved with running Free Being Me with girls aged 7-14 across the UK. As a girl and as a young woman I would look in the mirror and dream that I looked like the popular girls in school or the young women in the magazines. I used to think to myself ‘Why don’t I have nice shiny blonde hair? Why do I have to wear glasses? Why I am not tall and thin? Why do I not have a thigh gap?’- My mirror became my enemy!
I used to think that if I looked like all the popular girls and women in the magazines I would be successful, all the boys would want to date me and my life would be perfect.
However as I grew older and into my early twenties I realised this is what society and the media want us to believe: that if we looked a certain way then our life would be perfect. Free Being Me helped me understand that this ‘perfect look’ is actually the ‘Image Myth,’ as it is impossible for any girl or young women to look like what society and the media advertises and promotes.
Every minute of the day, there are girls and young women all over the world staring into their mirrors wishing that they looked like the ‘Image Myth’. They hate their mirror because they don’t like the way they look. These girls become women and mothers who continue to have low body confidence and low self-esteem through their adult life, transferring these anxieties onto their children. This means that girls, boys, young women and men all over the world grow up thinking they aren’t good enough.
Free Being Me opens girls’ eyes to the Image Myth. They are encouraged to work together to challenge it – and share the message with their friends!
As an organisation we are making a stand on social pressures for current and future generations, supporting girls to fulfil their potential. We can only do this through global support. The new UN Sustainable Development Goals do not directly mention body confidence, but they do call for ending discrimination against women and girls and women’s full and equal participation in decision-making. The Image Myth perpetuates discrimination, and creates an invisible barrier to girls’ participation.
We as a global community must support everyone affected by low body confidence to ensure that they realise that they beautiful and unique. We must love who we are because we are all beautiful inside and out.
I now look into the mirror and I am proud of the person who is staring back at me, as I am unique and beautiful just the way I am. My mirror and I are now best of friends!
Rachel Smith, Girlguiding Peer Educator, UK