Proud2Bme | Proud2Bme Rock Star: Emma Shakarshy

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Proud2Bme Rock Star: Emma Shakarshy

By Chelsea Kronengold--Today is Youth Outreach Coordinator, Emma Shakarshy’s, last day at Proud2Bme. In Emma’s time as Youth Outreach Coordinator, she grew the Proud2Bme presence immensely. 

Moreover, she has been a mentor and friend to our talented Proud2Bme contributors, and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Emma’s accomplishments (at both Proud and in her personal life) than naming her this month’s Proud2Bme Rockstar. In this bittersweet farewell, Emma reveals information about herself, her experience at Proud2Bme, and her plans for the future.

Chelsea: Tell us a little about yourself.

Emma: I’m a queer Middle Eastern feminist youth worker, social media and pop culture maven, and writer. Body positive activist by day, zumba-dancing queen by night, I grew up in South Jersey, went to college outside of Boston, and found my home in Brooklyn, where I live with my partner and new rescued pup, Zadie. 

Chelsea: What was your role at Proud2Bme and what was the best part of your job?

Emma: As the Youth Outreach Coordinator, I was responsible for recruiting new writers, communicating with regular contributors, editing blog pieces, and maintaining the site. I also served as the “voice” behind Proud2Bme’s social media channels and helped pilot Proud2Bme On Campus, our national initiative to fight eating disorders on college campuses.

The best part was definitely the relationships I built with the writers, who really became my editorial “staff” although they were volunteering their time and talent. I particularly loved setting up interviews between teens and body positive activists and role models and seeing those connections come alive.

Chelsea: What is your favorite memory from working at Proud2Bme?

Emma: I really loved the Proud2Bme 5 Day Challenge. It was truly a campaign conceived and executed by young people, the amazing students at Cal State Northridge, with NEDA’s help and resources, which I think is how social media activism should work especially when young people are involved. We had almost 1,000 Instagram posts throughout the five days of the campaign, and it was so incredible to see people from all over the world post their selfies, pictures of their passions, role models, and body positive advice.

Chelsea: What is your proudest accomplishment since starting Proud2Bme?

Emma: I’d say expanding the dominant narrative around body positivity to include not just body size and shape, but all of the things that go into body image and self-perception (i.e. race, sexuality, gender presentation and expression, ethnicity, ability, etc). It was important to me that Proud2Bme be an accessible, inclusive, intersectional space and I hope that it feels like an empowering alternative to the trillions of body-shaming sites out there.

Chelsea: What prior experience did you have that helped you navigate Proud2Bme?

Emma: My mom is actually a therapist who specializes in eating disorders, so I sort of grew up around ED advocacy. I also majored in English and Gender Studies, and a lot of my focus was around media representation, beauty ideals, and the policing of people’s bodies. Most of my experience came from working with young women of color through various youth orgs along the east coast.  I saw firsthand the ways in which they navigated the world in their bodies and the incredible pressures they faced. We also did a lot of work around media representation, or lack thereof. Proud2Bme was a perfect fit for me because it combined by passion for social justice and body positivity with writing and social media, two of the ways I engage in activism in my person and professional life.

Chelsea: What advice would you give to a young person struggling with body image concerns?

Emma: One thing I would say is be critical of the media you consume, from Instagram celebrities to the ads before your show plays on hulu. Most of it has been designed to make you feel badly about yourself so that you buy products. I’d say try to do the best you can to curate a media landscape that feels empowering to you, whether that means only following body positivity blogs, blocking friends who post triggering content, or creating your own media to challenge the status quo.

I’d also say talk about it and find supportive communities, both on and offline. If you’re feeling negative about your body, try checking out #bodypositive or start a club in your school that promotes positive self-esteem.  You can turn those feelings of self-doubt into fuel to change the issue, which doesn’t lie in yourself but lies in the way we’re taught to think about ourselves.

And of course, if your body image concerns turn into disordered behaviors, please contact the NEDA helpline at 800-931-2237 or use the Click to Chat function.

Chelsea: What are your next steps? How will your experience at Proud2Bme help you with your future?

Emma: I plan to attend Hunter College’s SIlberman School of Social Work and studying Clinical Practice with a specialization in Individuals, Families, and Groups. At Proud2Bme, I learned so much about the importance of creating digital support communities, online activist campaigns, and amplifying the voices of youth, in their own words and on their own terms. I plan to continue my work creating intentional, safe spaces for young people and can’t wait to bring Proud2Bme to the communities I work with.

Chelsea: Any random facts you wish to share with our readers?

I can make my tongue into a three leaf clover. That makes me pretty Proud2Bme!

Chelsea will be filling in as the Interim Youth Outreach Coordinator. If you are interested in becoming a contributing writer and/or have a Proud2Bme Rockstar nomination, please email Chelsea at ckronengold@myneda.org!

For more Proud2Bme Rock Stars, check out:

Proud2Bme Rock Star: Margy McCallum

Proud2Bme Rock Star: Lauren Myers

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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.