Last Wednesday’s meeting started out with a discussion on body image–a difficult topic for anyone, especially for a group of teenage girls in American society.
The discussion was lead by Suzannah Neufeld, a wonderful About-Face workshop leader and therapist who frequently works with young women with eating disorders and body image issues. With guidance from Suzannah, the girls in the Take Action group spoke about the ways in which they have been affected by the issue of body image, either directly or through the experience of friends and family.
Near the end of the discussion, Suzannah told a story called “Two Wolves,” in which a grandfather teaches his son that the part of himself that he nurtures will grow. To translate this story into a message about body image, the more you criticize yourself, the worse off you seem to be, but the more you appreciate yourself, the more likely you are to see things to be appreciated.
You may be wondering why we spoke with the girls about their own self-image when the purpose of the group is to take action against media messages–but body image and media images are inextricably connected; in other words, it is difficult to even talk about one without mentioning the other. We wanted to make sure that the girls not only learned about the effects of the media on a global scale, but on a personal level as well.
In the second half of the meeting, (drum roll please!) we decided on our action! After discussion and voting, the group was able to formulate a plan that combined each girl’s input.
The action will contain two parts: First, the girls will stand next to an advertisement in San Francisco (location to be determined) and ask people about the ad. Passersby will be asked 1) what the ad is selling, 2) how the ad is selling the product, and 3) what the advertisers want them to feel while looking at the ad. The answers will be written down or video recorded so that we can compare the responses at the end of the day.
Now on to the uplifting part of the action!
The girls will set up mirrors with large pieces of T-shirt–shaped paper attached, so that when people look in the mirror, it will look like they are wearing the “shirt.” People looking in the mirror get to write down compliments on the paper shirt so that they appear to be wearing the positive messages. Afterward, each person gets to take the paper t-shirt with them so that they can really bring the positive message home!
The action will take place this Saturday, August 20th, time and location TBA (somewhere in San Francisco). More information coming soon! In the meantime, check out this video of the girls talking about what they’re thinking as the action approaches: