Formed in 2014, The Be Real Campaign was founded in partnership with Dove and co-ordinated by YMCA England. Remember when Dove started to showcase people of all shapes and sizes and colors in their ads? Yup, that’s the kind of thing these organizations are all about. Be Real notes they’re about changing our attitudes towards body image and also wants to shine more light on the importance of health over looks. With that, they were the perfect people to talk to about this week’s topic. After a month of discussing what makes us self conscious, we’re ending on a high note talking with the people behind Be Real about their organization, their mission and what’s next for them this year.
Kendra: You guys recognize self-love needs to start at a young age, so at what age do you feel kids need to start realizing their worth as an individual?
Be Real Campaign: We don’t believe there is a specific age you can put on body confidence but we know that girls as young as five now worry about their size and appearance, and one third of young boys aged 8-12 are dieting to lose weight. So primary school is a key place to foster positive body confidence and to build young people’s self-esteem around the way they look. We want to give children and young people a body confident start to life. We’re calling for parents to set a positive example, schools to adopt a whole-school approach and young people to support each other to be body confident. Later this year we are launching our Schools Body Confidence Campaign which will help schools and children talk about what being body confident means.
Kendra: I only ask because I’m mixed and growing up I definitely favored white Barbie over black Barbie because the white one always seemed to have more. Did you have any similar instances like that growing up?
Be Real Campaign: There are many things which influence a young person’s life. The discussions that take place in their home, relationships with their peers, magazines they read, television programmes they watch and as you mentioned the toys they play with. These will all shape their perceptions of themselves and others. Recently we saw Mattel introduce new Barbie’s which were designed to reflect more diversity in shapes, sizes and ethnicities. I think is a positive move and should be encouraged further. Hopefully it will lead to other companies doing similar.
Kendra: Is it ever too late for an adult to feel okay with themselves?
Be Real Campaign: It is never too late for an adult to feel okay with themselves. In fact one of the most positive aspects of the campaign, is the amount of people who email, tweet or message us on Facebook about their body confidence. People are seeing the work the campaign is doing and it is positively changing their own perceptions or they are using our resources to speak to their partners and children about it. We have had several guest blogs from people who have transformed their body confidence and want to share it with others.
Kendra: What steps do you advise adults take to get on track to being more confident in who they are and what they look like?
Be Real Campaign: We don’t offer a step-by-step guide because everybody is an individual. We want to promote diversity and at the core of what Be Real believes is that it is better to be happy and healthy, than anything else. The most important part of that is to be happy with who you are. Our campaign is tackling body confidence by focussing on education with young people, but also on changing the portrayal of beauty in the media, advertising, fashion and music industries.
Kendra: You guys deal a lot with the importance of health and how that’s more important than what you look like. Why do you think that’s not taught more often in schools, and it takes an organization like Be Real to shine a light on it?
Be Real Campaign: Schools often come under criticism and there are not enough hours in the day to fit in every subject organizations like ourselves were calling for. Be Real has an expertise in this area and the organizations involved, such as YMCA and Dove, have been working in schools for years. So we are able to take the time to develop the right resources that will foster the types of conversations that will improve young people’s lives.
Kendra: What are some new things Be Real is working on this year?
Be Real Campaign: We have a busy year ahead. We are launching our Be Real Body Image Code in the coming months, which will be a voluntary code for the responsible portrayal of body image in advertising, fashion, music and the media. Towards the end of the year we will also be publishing our Schools Body Confidence Campaign, which will provide resources and guidance on how schools, teachers, youth workers and parents can help young people become more body confident.