Teaching Body Positivity at the 2017 Safe School Summit

Have you ever felt embarrassed about the way you look? Have you ever struggled with low self-esteem about yourself? Do you like to pretend you don’t have a disability? All of these things
and more were topics of the presentation I gave at the 2017 Safe School Summit, an annual anti-bullying conference for youth, educators, and professionals held on February 9th and 10th, 2017.

As a person who struggled with low self-esteem and negative body image throughout her teenage years and early twenties, it has become so important to me to promote positivity and
pride in everyone I meet. Presenting at this Summit meant I was able to talk about all of the above and more; going through the basics of the Body Positivity Movement, an intersectional
online movement that says: “All Bodies Are Good Bodies”, regardless of weight, appearance, gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, etc. Participants of my session got to learn about how
to tell the difference between positive and negative body image, have discussions on the importance of positive representation of marginalized communities in the media, and receive
tips and open-ended questions to evaluate how they could see themselves in a better light.

Interactive activities for this session included a selfie station, where participants could take fun photos of themselves with different props, and receive a small printout of their pictures as a keepsake. The purpose of this activity was to show how something as simple as a selfie could be an example of self-love, the act of embracing yourself regardless of perceived flaws, while getting to choose how you are viewed by the world. Another activity involved participants selecting a picture taped to the wall, of a sunset, flowers, shiny jewels, a waterfall, and string lights to stand under. The takeaway from this activity was that beauty is very much subjective. Flowers and scenery are both beautiful, even though they are very different; recognizing someone else as attractive or successful is not evidence of your own failures.

The turnout and feedback from this session was beyond amazing; participants felt they learned something new, and were better able to identify their individual positive traits, rather than only seeing the negative. Through events like this one, hopefully we can continue to spread positivity and happiness throughout the world, one step at a time.

By, Effy Francis

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