Proud2Bme | Celebrate Realize Your Beauty Day on April 28th!

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Celebrate Realize Your Beauty Day on April 28th!

Catherine Weingarten interviewed Stacey Lorin Merkl, founder and Executive Director of Realize Your Beauty, an organization that celebrates body positivity through theater arrts.

A lot of my friends know I have both a strong passion for theater arts as well as body positive activism, so when one of them mentioned Realize Your Beauty, I freaked out! A nonprofit organization that uses theater arts to promote positive body image? It was way too nifty and relevant to what did it for me!

I immediately got in touch the lovely Stacey Lorin Merkl, and since this fall we have started to work together. I really believe there needs to be more education and space for discussion when it comes to young people and body image. Growing up, I never had anyone telling me ways to love my body or myself; the only focus was on what lipstick would make my face look less fat. So I conducted an interview with Stacey to get the word out about Realize Your Beauty Day (Monday, April 28th), an awesome and fun holiday celebrating being body positivity. Here's what she had to say...

One thing we first discovered we had in common was that we both interned at the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Tell me about how you first got involved.

In 2006 I was living in Seattle. At that time, I was looking for a support network. I found NEDA online and it was exactly what I’d been searching for. I was surprised to see that the headquarters were within walking distance to my house (at this time, the NEDA headquarters were based in Seattle, WA). I immediately signed up to volunteer, and began volunteering my time in the office. I would package the items sold from the website, clean up the mailing list in their online system, and I completed the training as a helpline volunteer. In 2007 we moved to NYC, and I became a “Special Events Volunteer” – volunteering at the Annual NEDA Benefit dinner held in NYC. In 2011, NEDA began the transition to having all their offices and headquarters together under one roof in Manhattan. When I trained for the helpline in 2006 in Seattle, there were 2 or 3 phones off in the corner of the office where volunteers would take turns- now the helpline has an entire room and staff of volunteers. It’s so inspiring to visit the NEDA offices now and see the growth and transformation that’s taken place!

What are some new developments going on with Realize Your Beauty?

This year we’ve done a lot of restructuring from within. We’ve reorganized our Board and expanded our Cast. Perhaps the most exciting change is the expansion of our programming. During National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in February of this year, we launched our High School Program, ‘Bloom' [written by the author of this article and playwright, Catherine Weingarten]. The program has really transformed the organization’s offerings, and I am thrilled to be able to offer it to our students.

What made you come up with the idea for RYB day?

In an ideal world, every day would be “Realize Your Beauty Day”! We wanted to set aside a day of the year where we can all focus on the deeper meaning of the word ‘beauty’ and how it relates to the unique qualities everyone possess. RYB Day is a time for people to focus on inner qualities and on spreading beauty in the world. It’s essentially a day of self-empowerment!

How can a college or group get involved in RYB Day?

A college or a group of friends can get involved in Realize Your Beauty Day in so many ways. The first thing to do is visit our website, where we have a list of ideas for how you can celebrate the day, both big and small. We have ideas ranging from taking our I Am Beautiful pledge, creating a video or art collages, to holding a flash mob. And if you don’t have a group, you can participate as an individual, too. Anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged to sign up on our website.

How can someone get involved with RYB in general?

Realize Your Beauty Day is the perfect time to get involved with our organization! There are ways to participate as an individual or as a group. During the rest of the year, we are always looking for Special Events Volunteers.

And now I’m gonna ask you some fun, silly questions...

What's your favorite dessert?

Lemon Meringue Pie

What celebrity do you wish you could have tea with?

Amy Poehler. I really admire the work she's doing with Smart Girls. She's also so talented and funny. I would love to just sit down and have a conversation with her.

What dance move can you not get enough of?

I'm an avid Lindy Hopper. Pure joy!

What is a piece of advice you've gotten, that you've found inspiring?

“Just keep swimming!”

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About Us

Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

Proud2Bme was first launched in the Netherlands by Riverduinen, a mental health organization that has licensed the concept to the National Eating Disorders Association. Unless otherwise noted, all original content on this site is copyright The National Eating Disorders Association. The Proud2Bme brand, logos, and trademarks are property of Rivierduinen.