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Body Confidence Day encourages acceptance, self love


(Photo by Lilah Gentry)

by Helen Xiao
Harvard junior and NCAA Division I swimmer Schuyler Bailar urged students to focus on what their bodies can achieve rather than how they look, during A-block of Body Confidence Day, Friday April 6.
In his presentation, Bailar discussed his struggle with choosing between assimilating with his teammates and classmates and being able to express his identity. Through his experience, Bailar learned a lifelong lesson that he shared with the audience.
While describing his first swim meet after transition, Bailar highlighted how the transition affected him mentally.
“Although it felt different, it felt good because I knew that for the first time ever, I was swimming for myself,” said Bailar. “From this I realized that you can be exactly who you are and do what you love.”
However, Bailar’s journey towards self-discovering came with many roadblocks.
“In high school I finally grew sick of never fitting in, so I changed the way I dressed and looked, so that people could automatically see me as a girl, which was my assigned gender at birth,” said Bailar. “Although I was able to fit in, I felt miserable. Being and acting like a girl just didn’t feel right to me.”  
Using his own high school experience, Bailar emphasized how poor body confidence can harm both the physical and emotional health of a high school student. He said that not being comfortable with his body led to eating disorders and depression.
“I ended up going to  eating disorder treatment in Miami,” said Bailar. “There I realized that I was transgender, and my mental issues were due to the fact that I was unhappy that my body was the body of a girl.”
Despite all that, Bailar said he is now happy with both his body and the way he presents himself, giving him body confidence which he hopes others will also embrace.  
“My body doesn’t fit the exact definition of masculinity, but I don’t really care about that,” said Bailar. “I think that it is important to think about what your body is capable of doing, because then it doesn’t matter about how it looks.”
by Jacques About-Rizk
Students revealed the lies behind clothing sizes and their marketing during D-block of Body Confidence Day.
Senior Anna Fischer spoke on the plus size fashion industry, how unimportant clothing sizes are and the inaccurate portrayal of plus size models during.
Fischer, a member of body confidence club, led a presentation on the inconsistency in clothing sizes, the portrayal of plus-sized women in the media, and how much women focus on their clothing size.
“I hope that people learned the bad side of the fashion industry,” she said.  “The fashion industry is trying to make money, not make you feel better.”
“We, as a society, value what size we wear so much it has become part of our personality,” said Fischer. “A lot of clothing is designed for women who are a lot smaller than the average woman and it’s not your fault if it doesn’t fit; it’s the store’s fault.”  
According to Fischer, many stores record average woman to be a size 8, while in reality, it is a size 14.  
“Clothes are designed for the ideal woman, not the average one,” she said. “We shouldn’t idealize one type of body.”  
Fischer also talked about the idea of “one size fits all” and showed a Buzzfeed video to prove the faults of this sizing.  
“I found it informing, and it taught me about how plus size people are portrayed in the media,” said freshman Tara Ersen. “I really liked the presentation.”  
by Nichol Weylman-Farwell
“These kids are seeing advertisements on Disney Channel that depict other children as having flawless skin. If they have acne or another skin condition, this can make them feel bad about themselves, and it’ll basically force them to buy skin care products. It’s really an awful cycle, because these advertising industries are manipulating their insecurities, and are doing it to make more money,” said senior Abby Strayer.
Junior Renee Miller and Strayer, members of Body Confidence Club, showed a presentation about various skin conditions, and the effect that they can have on children and teenagers during C-block of Body Confidence Day.
They explained how advertisements for skin care products can often be manipulative. As an example, Miller and Strayer played an advertisement for Clearasil, a company that creates products to clear acne. The video compared the speed of getting rid of acne with Clearasil to the speed of an airplane or a rollercoaster.
Strayer commented about the representation of people with skin conditions in the media: “People with acne often are portrayed as the ‘butt’ of a joke, or as a nerd in movies and on television shows, which isn’t accurate at all.”
As advice for how to talk to with skin conditions, Strayer said: “Please be mindful. If you see someone with bad acne, don’t say ‘That’s so gross,’ because it is a genetic or hormonal issue. They’re probably trying their best to treat it, so don’t put them down even further.”
Miller and Strayer talked about various skin condition, such as acne and vitiligo in a slideshow presentation.
In the presentation, Miller and Strayer detailed the characteristics and effects of acne. According to Miller, over 60 million people are affected by acne. While there is no cure, over 3 billion dollars is spent each year on beauty products to help conceal or treat acne, they added.
Miller and Strayer also talked about the use of medications to clear acne. One medication that came up frequently in the discussion was Accutane.
The speakers also described vitiligo, an uncommon skin condition, which is cause by the lack of pigmentation in the skin, and creates inconsistently colored patches in the skin.
The block started off with a video, in which an interviewer posed the question, “What do you love about your body?” to various students. For example, senior Thacher Andrae said: “I love my body because only my body can embody who I am as a person.”
by Zoe Goldstein
E-block of Body Confidence Day provided a hopeful outlook and helpful messages on recovery from eating disorders. During the block, survivors of eating disorders shared stories about their paths to recovery.
Sophomore Naz Shokri moderated the panel, which was made up of Sage Feltus, North Reading high school student Nora Standel, and Shalhavit-Simcha Cohen.
“I became my own worst enemy,” said Standel, who considers herself “fully recovered from an eating disorder,” shared her story first. In sixth grade, after the divorce of her parents, she developed her eating disorder as a way to cope.
According to Standel, her recovery began when she was finally able to admit to herself that she had a problem. After telling her mother, Standel was enrolled at a treatment center. She later joined support groups through MEDA, Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association, where she “began to learn a lot of new coping mechanisms.”
As she recovered, Standel rediscovered her love of sports and found a new love in weight-lifting.
“I no longer see myself as fat or disgusting, but as beautiful and strong,” she said. Standel added that she hopes sharing her story will help anyone else struggling with an eating disorder.
Feltus shared her story next. Feltus, who experienced OCD, depression, and anxiety, from a young age, began to feel as if specific foods would hurt her if she ate them.
In high school, she, like Standel, “used her eating disorder to cope when her parents divorced.” When she went to college, she explained that her eating disorder felt like her “best friend.”
After returning home during the summer and going to a treatment center, Feltus learned how to cope without using her eating disorder. Slowly, she realized that, “it was possible for me to recover.”
When fully recovered, Feltus applied to be an intern at MEDA. Now, “I live in accordance with my values and don’t use eating disorder behaviours,” she said. Her goal now is to “help people achieve recovery.”
Finally, Cohen described her own journey to recovery.
From a young age, Cohen had a difficult relationship with her body. For example, at the pool, she would not want to take her towel off because she “was scared of other people’s eyes.”
“I slowly began to find creative ways to diet,” she said. In 2011, Cohen was crowned Miss Fitness Israel. Even then, she thought, “I still have a curve here and a few pounds to lose.”
Her obsession with being skinny resulted in Cohen developing anorexia.
“You get obsessed and cloud your mind with that obsession,” she said. Soon, though, she was able to become “obsessed with recovery.” She learned that “not being Miss Perfect is actually better.”
Cohen also attended MEDA support groups.
Overall, the panel provided the message that, as Cohen said, “You can always change who you are for the better.”
by Jake Forbes
The flaws of the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale including disregard for muscle versus were discussed by members of the Body Confidence Club  during G-block of Body Confidence Day in the auditorium last Friday.
Sophomores Victoria Leaper and Michaela Patriacca started the presentation with a video from Buzzfeed that grouped people with different heights and weights that had the same BMI. “The point of the video was to show that BMI does not distinguish fat from muscle,” said Patriacca.
“Don’t eat just because you are bored or upset,” said Leaper emphasizing the importance of eating habits.
According to Patriacca, due to poor eating habits, many people find themselves underweight. Patriacca talked about the lack of awareness for skinny shaming. She said that while overweight people are often shamed for their bodies, many underweight people also find themselves in a similar position.
Even if students struggle with their weight, Patriacca talked about how they can still be body positive. “No matter what shape, size, or gender you are, you can be body positive,” she said.
Leaper talked about the importance of making North a place of body confidence. She said, “We need to raise both ourselves and others up and make them more confident.”
Leaper and Patriacca displayed a hotline on the projector for those lacking body positivity.
After the presentation, the audience was asked to fill out a survey about body confidence, before Leaper and Patriacca along with other members of the Body Confidence Club fielded questions from the audience.
by Rebecca Kellstein
Seniors Karl Adrianza and Jessie Yang discussed how poorly the media portrays people of color, and how it affects their self image because of not being well representative, F-Block of Body Confidence Day.
Yang also shared how white standards of beauty affected her when she was younger. She explained that people of color are unequally portrayed in the media more so than white people. The presenters additionally explained that misrepresentations in media and the modeling industry give people a limited definition of beauty.
“I would look at all these white people and their hair was always wavy curly and nice,” she said. “You have to fix your hair just because they thought it wasn’t what it should be”
According to Adrianza and Yang, misrepresentations in media and the modeling industry give people a limited definition of beauty.
“Beauty is subjective, you choose what is beautiful to yourself,” explained the presenters, “We are all beautiful.”
Adrianza discussed a study where children of color were asked to determine which doll was prettier, one was white and one was black. Most of the children chose the white babydoll. When asked why, one girl said, because the doll was black.
“When people of color don’t see themselves being correctly portrayed in the media they feel they don’t have anyone to look up to,” said Adrianza.
“It comes down to people of color’s confidence,” he added. “These messages can be internalized by children.”
In addition to representation, Yang explained that it can be difficult to find makeup for people of color. “When you have darker skin tone its alot harder to find the right skin tone,” she said. “The makeup industry has failed people of darker skin.”
Yang also discussed how white standards of beauty affected her when she was younger. “I would look at all these white people and their hair was always wavy curly and nice,” she said. “You have to fix your hair just because they thought it wasn’t what it should be”

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