I know this is a crazy time of year. We are all starting to wind down from the whirlwind of the holidays and prepare ourselves for the New Year ahead. You may have already heard that 2013 has been a pivotal year for REbeL. We are reaching more youth than ever before and are truly seeing the impact the REbeL mission is having in our schools and community.
You see, our vision is a world in which individuals are valued for who they are rather than how they look. Can you picture this . . . a future in which people focus their energy and time on celebrating their strengths and giving their unique gifts to the world? A future in which the size of our clothing, or brand of our jeans, or how many “likes” we get on our most recent Instagram picture aren’t what define us?
When did the New Year’s resolution turn into a realization that you aren’t good enough so you need to do something to change your body? I can’t tell you how many of my friends have commented over the last few days about 2014 being the year they “get into shape.” Shape…it’s a funny word if you think about it. The standard definition of shape is “the outline of something’s form,” so…aren’t we all a shape? Yet, for some reason we feel this tremendous pressure to have to get into a particular shape; one that is set forth by our society, by the media, by Hollywood, by marketers.
At REbeL, we arm the students with the tools they need to see past the smoke and mirrors of the media and marketing. They are smart. Really smart. They are everything I wish I could have been in high school and more importantly, as I was deciding my career path, in college. They are the new voice of reason in our society. They are making waves and changing the definition of beauty and health for every body.
We have two days left in 2013 and two days left in our year-end fundraising campaign. You may ask: “Why, of all the charitable causes out there, should I choose REbeL?” Here’s why: we are not only shifting the way our culture views body image, we are shifting the mentality of the students who will soon be managing businesses, creating marketing campaigns, raising families, and having holidays with their kids while seeingthe beauty in every shape, instead of overlooking it. Negative body image and the belief that we are not “good enough” affect every person from every background in every corner of our community. And the impact of this on our youth is staggering–from bullying to eating disorders to lowered academic achievement to suicide—all have a connection to the issues REbeL addresses.
We set a goal of $15,000 and we need your help reaching it. We have one day to show these REbeLs and those who will join our program in the future that they are worth it.
They are worth passing up a few morning coffees or a dinner date out. They are the future. A future in which individuals are valued for who they are rather than how they look. Visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/rebel-be-real and make a donation in support of REbeL today. As always, your donations are tax deductible and are at work here in Kansas City.
Be You. Be Real. Be a part of the Change.
I love the Holiday season. Especially this week. And the next. It feels like the world kind of slows down. And people start to be where they are. It’s a welcome change from the hustle and bustle to get to the annual finish line.
People start to be more generous.
They start to be taken with the moments.
If even just for this short stint of the year.
And through this, they exhibit their inner beauty to the outer world.
It’s a great time of year to get to be every bit of your very self. And a great time of year to join a beauty-full REbeLution. To REbeL.
Through REbeL, individuals are encouraged to be exactly who they are, all year round. To be the real versions of who they are, instead of contrived versions of what they believe the media or society would will them to be. And to understand that beauty is so much more than makeup and a tag tucked inside of your clothes.
REbeL is so much more than an organization to build positive self-esteem and body image in adolescents. Even as an adult, the mission of REbeL sticks in my mind daily. I am constantly encountering “fat talk.” I am constantly confronted with women in my life who put themselves down. Beautiful, competent, successful women who abuse their bodies with words and often, actions, that one would never wish on their very best friends. But we treat our bodies as if they are disposable. As if they serve as nothing more than a showcase for the person we want everyone to see us as. But REbeL has taught me that my body is really a vehicle for me to be so much more than just a face. Or a size.
I used to think that if I were skinnier… I’d be happier. Or if I wore a size 4… I’d be content. Or if the scale would just say the magic number… that would be the key to life. But now, I know that it is in being healthy and taking care of myself, that I am the happiest of all. It was in choosing to REbeL, to go against the grain, that I found the person that I really love who lives inside me.
The REbeL annual fundraising campaign is going on right now. There are only 8 days left for you to help finance the vision of REbeL this year. The hopes and dreams for REbeL are big. But big dreams take big help. Some day, I’d love to see REbeL in every single school, in every single community. But that will take time. And money.
We have just one week left of 2013. One week left for you to be a little different than you are the rest of the year.
As we approach the flip of the calendar
Please consider making a year-end, fully tax-deductible donation to REbeL. Give yourself the gift of BElieving in change for the year to come. BElieving in being healthy and happy with the person you are. BElieving in REbeL. Every single donation, of every single dollar amount will make a difference.
To donate, click here: REbeL
Kellogg’s Special K has a new ad campaign currently making the rounds online called “Shhhhut Down Fat Talk.” The video is engaging and very clever as they visually depict the power of “fat talk.” Women enter a fake clothing store called SHHHH in which all of the clothing labels, instead of being a size, are statements we might think about ourselves in our heads . . . “I look fat in this” or “I have a muffin top.” Signs around the store carry similar messaging. The women in the store are drawn to the clothing but as they see the labels and signage, their reactions change. They are disturbed as they realize that the words they are reading are simply the thoughts they’ve had in their own heads. The words, “You wouldn’t talk this way to anyone else, so why do it to yourself?” then appear on the screen.
So all is good, right? A great video calling out an unhealthy practice in which so many women engage. And one that, we at REbeL, work very hard to eliminate. However, I don’t think Special K is truly joining the REbeLution just yet . . . This video IS great because it’s a conversation-starter. It’s bringing the concept of fat talk (basically body bashing) to the forefront of discussions, which is helpful because awareness is the first step in bringing about change. BUT there are also some problems, and in order to be media literate individuals, we need to be able to recognize both the good and the bad in what we see.
The voiceover in the video states, “93% of women fat talk . . . we believe it’s a barrier to managing their weight.” So stopping fat talk isn’t really about engaging in positive self-talk because it’s better for your overall health and emotional wellbeing? Instead, you should stop fat talking because Special K thinks it will help you to lose weight (even though there is no actual evidence of that)? If you check out the Special K website, you will see that they haven’t suddenly changed their philosophy. They are still all about encouraging consumers to replace two meals per day with Special K cereals, shakes, and bars in an effort to drop pounds. They are still running with the “What will you gain when you lose?” campaign . . . because if we lose six pounds in two weeks, we will suddenly gain happiness and contentment. Riiigght . . . we cannot forget that Special K is still trying to sell their product.
We are getting smarter and many are becoming more savvy consumers. Women (and men too) are growing tired of the same old advertising practices and want to see a more diverse range of individuals pictured. And guess what? Those responsible for marketing and advertising KNOW that! So you want to see more ads that are empowering and body positive and “real” (a la Dove’s Real Beauty campaign)? At their core, these ads truly aren’t about producing positive change unless it means a positive change to the company’s bottom line. (Dove’s sales went up 20% in one year following their launch of the Real Beauty Campaign, Forbes, 2011.) Instead, they are co-opting terms like “fat talk” and claiming the body acceptance movement for their own. All the while, the true advocates for a REbeLution are working hard to change the definition of beauty and health for every body . . . regardless of what type of cereal you buy.
A while ago, I went to Denny’s for breakfast. Hungry as I was, I ordered the All-American Slam with a side of biscuits and gravy. Yum. I finished the meal and sat back content, then the waitress walked up. She looked down at my empty plate and said, “Wow. I can’t believe you finished it all. It’s rare to see a person, especially a girl, finish all their food.”
I just smiled and shrugged, but inside I was troubled. Why can’t people finish a delicious meal without being criticized? Does finishing a meal mean I don’t fit society’s standards?
Walking through the halls, you constantly see people looking at their reflection to see if they look good, you see judgmental eyes pass over you, and as much as you hate to admit it, you’ve probably passed the same eyes before. We all want to look “perfect.” But is there really a perfect?
Who sat down one day and decided what the perfect person should look like? In this day and age, society has made it seem like the person who eats a burger is fat but the person who eats a salad is trying to get attention. Why can’t we be free to eat what we want without fear of someone judging us?
You can’t change who you are, so you definitely shouldn’t be criticized for being yourself. Don’t worry about those who judge, they just have nothing better to do than make fun of other people. They can’t accomplish anything if you don’t let them.
We’ve heard it all before: be happy with yourself, don’t let others tear you down. But when did all that go away? We started worrying about what other people thought, we tried desperately to be what other people wanted. When you can’t feel free to do what makes you happy, how are you ever going to be you and not some made-up person that pleases others?
If you face yourself being judged by a person, just stop and think for a second: Are you happy with what you’re doing? If so, why does it matter what they say? What it comes down to, in the end, is really that the only person you need to please is you.
Madison Graves is a student at Blue Valley Northwest High School.
Shared with permission of Madison Graves/Blue Valley Northwest’s “The Express”