Commenting during the discussion, one of the girls said, “There is a positive side in the message portrayed on social media because it shows that we are all individuals and have a choice to do whatever we want with our bodies as long as they make us feel beautiful and happy. She continued stating that, just because someone had breast implants or bleaches their skin, does not mean we all should do it and those who choose not to alter their bodies are not unworthy of being human beings”.
SESSION THREE: Cultivating a Positive Body Image
Under the theme: Body image, body development, body positivity, and self-love we hosted the third Girls Empowered Project and Boys Empowered Project session on 11th September 2021 at Gaegolelwe Adult Centre in Atteridgeville.
We wanted to cultivate a positive body image amongst the youth, address the impact of body shaming to ones self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders and leading a healthy life.
The participants engaged in an activity about puberty, exploring the developmental changes teenagers go through during the puberty stage, and the girls mentioned that during puberty their bodies’ changes. They start developing curves, breasts, pimples, pubic hair, gain weight and start menstruation. The boys also shared the body changes they undergo during puberty, which include growing pubic hair, their voices get deeper, they grow muscles and mustaches.
We engaged in a discussion on body image and social pressure, particularly how social media portrays girls and boys and the ideal body image one needs to have to be considered beautiful and popular. The beneficiaries expressed that the messages portrayed on social media are unrealistic and negative; individuals on social media have undergone surgery, breast implants, and skin bleaching. Social media make us feel insecure, have low self-esteem, and makes us think our natural bodies are not beautiful and good enough.
To have a healthy body image and accept how we look it is important to practice body positivity and affirmation, self-love, and self-care. We hosted a body positivity/self-care talk where our volunteer speaker, Masego Mokala delivered a powerful message to our beneficiaries to “love themselves as they are”. We also highlighted the importance of exercising and keeping a healthy body and a healthy mind and conducted a yoga session where the beneficiaries engaged in breathing exercising and meditation to relax and ease the mind.
Atteridgeville based fitness instructor, Karabo Goofy, wrapped up the day by offering an exercising session. He shared tips on self-discipline, dedication and the importance of exercising and what it does to our minds and bodies.
Personal hygiene and self-care is essential when fostering a healthy body image. We provided 30 dignity packs with the help of our generous donors and selfless good-doers. Each dignity pack included two packs of sanitary towels for the GEP beneficiaries, a roll-on, and toothpaste, body lotion, and bath soap for both the GEP and BEP beneficiaries that would last them for two months.