FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2014
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Rebel PEER EDUCATION TO BE FEATURED ON THE TODAY SHOW
Segment on Kansas City-Area Organization Will Air April 30th
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – REbeL, a Kansas City-area student-driven peer education and prevention program designed to address disordered eating and body image concerns, will be featured on NBC’s “Today Show.” The segment will air April 30, 2014 between 8 and 9 a.m. central.
“We could not be more excited to have the opportunity to introduce REbeL and our unique mission to a national audience through this segment on the “Today Show” and to have been asked to participate in the #LoveYourSelfie campaign,” explains Dr. Laura Eickman, founder of REbeL. “REbeL is now more than 5 years old and in that time, we have seen tremendous growth. However, one of our goals is to grow beyond the Kansas City area and this is an exciting step that we expect will generate some interest in other regions.”
The production crew for the “Today Show” came to Kansas City April 16th and 17th to film, spending time with students involved with the organization, board members and leadership to capture the organization’s mission. The show also asked REbeL students to create a PSA for the show’s ongoing #LoveYourSelfie campaign. When the segment airs on April 30, the PSA that REbeL students created will be one of three shown that day, with the others being from a Girl Scout Troop and a Girls, Inc. group.
“Today Show” producers enlisted the expertise of filmmaker Sharon Liese to mentor the students through the process of conceiving, filming and editing the PSA. Liese recently produced the short film “SELFIE” that premiered during the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014 and was featured on the “Today Show.” Liese’s credits include creator and executive producer of the award-winning series “High School Confidential,” filmed at Blue Valley Northwest.
REbeL has been an active part of the Kansas City community, focusing on educating, training and empowering youth, since 2008. The program first educates members on eating disorders and body image issues, emphasizing the importance of health and encouraging students to be introspective – evaluating their own thoughts and feelings about their appearance. Students are then educated on topics including the prevalence of eating and body image issues, the inefficacy of diets, the impact of negative self-talk and media literacy. After continuous training and education over the course of a year, students become the educators and initiators, creating a dissonance-based leadership style and encouraging students to develop their own solutions to problems. Since REbeL was founded in 2008, more than a dozen students who have participated in the program in high school have chosen to pursue degrees and careers aimed at the prevention of eating and body image concerns. The “Today Show” segment will provide an opportunity to introduce the Kansas City-area organization to a national audience. To learn more about the organization, visit http://re-bel.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
REbeL is a peer education program, founded in 2008 by Laura Eickman, Psy.D., that aims to change the definition of beauty and health for individuals of all ages. REbeL was originally piloted as a student group at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, Kan., to promote an environment that would build self-esteem and confidence among youth, while combating disordered eating and body image issues that have become increasingly prevalent among young men and women. The organization has since grown into a not-for-profit, launching additional chapters in Kansas area high schools and recently extending their reach to middle schools, recognizing that combating body image issues begins at a young age. In addition to peer education, the organization also hosts the annual Walk to REbeL, along with numerous community events including parent education workshops and classroom presentations. To learn more about REbeL, visit www.re-bel.org or contact Laura Eickman at email@example.com; (913)- 814.9209.
Have you ever had to write a bio? It’s hard. The easy part is listing your education, credentials, and experience because those are trivial facts no one can question and, at most, cause a harmless amount of judgment. But what about getting down to what makes you you? Like, your [cringe] hobbies. The initial moment of sitting down and writing out who you are in a short paragraph is pretty much the most startling reality of the way you perceive yourself (so this is how I take up space on this earth?). When forced to actually write out who you are, there is little room for inference on the part of the audience; as opposed to the biography you “write” through your social media profile. This of course is done by posting mere photos, captions, and quotes, all the while safely hiding behind cute hashtags. This way you can create scenarios that ambiguously require interpretation from the follower. Yep, just like art! The foggy line between what is truth and what is performance is invisible on social media; in fact this line has become completely obsolete.
Eh, what’s the big deal? So you don’t buy into the inflated (bordering on imaginary) self-image of some. Just don’t follow them, right? Not right. Recent studies are revealing that just isn’t so easy. The images we see in magazines are no longer the main catalyst for negative feelings about one’s self. It has shifted to the images we see in our news feed, among our followers and friends. This proves to be more damaging because viewers see these images as “real” since they are of people we know. Which ups the pressure even more – Shouldn’t I look like the girl in biology? She is able to obtain this look and she’s not a celebrity with an entourage of personal shoppers, trainers, and chefs.
Not only does pressure heighten, but equating self-worth with appearance is emphasized. Think about the true art of perfecting the selfie. I mean, that takes a lot of quality camera time, most likely in front of the mirror. Not to mention becoming an amateur lighting and photoshop specialist. Not a selfie enthusiast? I’m sure you can at least relate to staging the perfect picture, probably well before the event actually takes place. Or the awkward, nervous silence as you and a friend are smashed together, smiling, posing, waiting for the picture to take – and praying it comes out flawlessly. Because sometimes, there are photos that are beyond repair; even a filter can’t hoist it up to the idealistic pedestal worthy of a post. And then how would anyone know you are fun, carefree, and loved?
We have a culture that places a lot of value in the way we look, the stuff we own, and the way we project happiness. This is nothing new, but now our lives are so public. Gone are the days of personal memories. We must document, tag, share, and post to keep up, to feel included, to feel heard. With an average of 79 minutes spent on social media a day, it would be hard for a person to deny swiping through news feeds as a hobby. Not only does this mentality perpetuate the feeling of never feeling good enough, but it puts people in a position in which they are vulnerable and hungry for the judgment and affirmation of others. At what point do we completely lose our true self to the fictitious character we’ve created, playing a role in our culture’s game of catch up?
Claire Mysko brilliantly acknowledges the power of using social media for change. Think about it: what other platform do you have in which followers are checking in to hear from you multiple times a day? Capitalize on this chance to create a shift. One that moves away from the way we look and moves towards the people we are. Think about your bio, your hobbies. What makes you who you are that isn’t tied to the betterment of your appearance? Focus on doing beautiful, rather than being beautiful. You hold far more influence than you may think.
Post positive. Chances are your “selfie” will feel a whole lot better for it.
Written by Laura LaHue, member of the REbeL Board of Directors and REbeL sponsor at Prairie Star Middle School
I am not in high school. I know. Sad. Because high school is really fun. And I was in high school once. Many moons ago. And I loved it. I had a blast. I had friends. I dated off and on. And before it was all said and done, I had an eating disorder.
Bam. I just put that out there, didn’t I? I am a person who, now, talks very openly about my struggles. Because I actually believe that in talking openly about it, I have a healthier relationship with my body. And because that girl, the one who had an eating disorder, is just one part of my life. And I don’t even know if I know her anymore. But I will never let myself forget her.
So, as I said, I did high school. And then went on to college. Which I also, am no longer in. I know. Sad, once again. Because college is unlike any other time in your life. I had a ton of fun. And had a ton of friends. And struggled with body image issues and disordered eating. High school and college gifted me some of the very best times of my life. And yet, in retrospect, some of the most challenging to figure out who I was supposed to be being. Because of all of the visual noise and clutter …all of the messaging daily on how to achieve perfection… my mind, heart, and body had a disconnect on what the very best version of me was.
I lived parts of my life in which I had an eating disorder. I’ve said it before, I feel like if I say I had it, that makes me the owner. The one calling the shots. But the reality is, it had me. Once I let them into my life, my eating disorder, body image issues, and low self-esteem controlled me. They controlled the girl that I presented to the world. They dictated what she wore. What she ate. What she said. How she acted. And how she felt about the person wearing her skin. And so, in order to reclaim me… to not be her… I had to take steps.
I took steps. Little ones into big ones. And one day, after times where it felt like I took one step forward and two steps back, one day, I was running. Running toward the person who loved me and who had secretly been there, all along. Myself. And I truly felt free. And now, as an adult, I am happy to be here instead of back there, because I can focus on my health, not the numbers in my clothes or on a scale. I can just be. The girl who has been right there, all along.
It sounds cliche. And fluffy. Right? Talking about self-love and self-esteem seems like a touchy feely, warm and fuzzy thing. A girl thing. A thing that people should just know how to do, right? Or that is a First World Problem. But I believe that self-love, self-esteem, self-respect, and being a healthy being contributes to every piece of our society and affects the impact that we have on the world around us. The space we occupy. I know, firsthand that being dissatisfied, daily, with the person you are can take far too much energy. Energy that is better spent doing good things in this world.
The minute I stopped searching outward for who I should try to become… the day I stopped hating the girl with the pear-shaped build, the never-seemed-quite-taut-enough tummy, and the eyes and lips that looked like a fish… I started learning to see what I did like. I learned to like the girl who was screaming at me from the inside… Just be me!, she cried. Be funny. And loving. And introspective. Be witty. And punny. And creative. Be the girl who is you. Not everyone else. And as I got to know her, I liked her. I liked that girl. And the more I got to know her, the more I let her in, the more I could see she was better than I gave her credit for. And that even the pear-shaped package wasn’t so bad after all. Because it’s the package she came in.
And that. THAT. That girl. Is why I walk. It is why I believe in REbeL. Because after the very first time that I found myself in an unhealthy relationship with food, and my body, I had to take steps. To find that girl inside. To step away from the girl who was trying to take over. And step toward health. Toward a different definition of beauty. Toward owning my true self. And rocking what I got. I had to put one foot, in front of the other, and walk away… and also, toward a new way of being.
I believe in the power of REbeL. I believe that the mission is making a difference. I believe that, if many moons ago, I had the opportunity to have an open dialogue about my feelings, I could have avoided the damage done. I could have understood that I was not alone. And I could have REbeL’ed. And found that girl, the one that I am now, sooner.
So please walk. Walk to make a difference. Walk to REbeL. Click here to learn more: http://re-bel.org/walk-to-rebel/
Written by Ashli Eickman Brehm. BEliever in the REbeLution.