Proud2Bme Rock Star: Lauren Myers
By Mary Streech--Lauren Myers is a high school student and body image activist who created Project Beautiful, a community initiative that encourages the acceptance of all body shapes and sizes.
Lauren has been hosting various activities and presentations throughout her school district for the last six months. I got the opportunity to ask Lauren a few questions about her project and future goals:
Mary: What drove you to start Project Beautiful and what are your future goals/plans?
Lauren: A few things drove me to start Project Beautiful. The main one being to raise awareness of eating disorders. Last year I had a close friend who suffered from bulimia and I saw the depth of the disease. Experiencing that with her drove me to not only help her reach out to others for recovery, but to help make others aware of the dangers of eating disorders, how to prevent them [and get] treatment...
It soon branched out into spreading positivity, reducing negative parts of the schools’ climate, improving student-to-student and student-to-staff member relationships to...inspiring others to speak up for something they stand for, being able to help others, to even creating their own projects.
My future aspirations include: attending college to double major in Philosophy and Political Science while minoring in Women’s Studies. Then I aspire to further my education by attending law school to earn a law degree in Constitutional Law and Litigation. With those degrees, I aspire to use them either working as a lawyer for a non-profit organization or governmental agency to possibly having a career in politics, mainly congress. I would love to tackle issues, solutions, and improvements surrounding cyberbullying and mental health in the political or legal field.
M: Why do you think creating a positive body image environment is important?
L: I think creating a positive body image environment is crucial in any setting. Whether it be at school, a workplace, or home. People need to not only be embraced and recognized for the skills and talents they harbor that aren’t focused around their appearance, they need to be able to embrace and recognize those things themselves. By doing so, they can truly feel comfortable in their own skin and content with who they are. Also, it is [important] in the prevention of developing unhealthy, negative habits and eating disorders.
M: How have your classmates and peers reacted to your movement?
L: Overall, the reactions from my classmates and peers have been very positive. At first, their reactions were curiousness about what I was doing. But the reactions soon evolved...with the progression of the project to being proud I was addressing such serious issues and raising awareness of eating disorders, to appreciation [that Project Beautiful] was encouraging them to reach out to others for help, to overwhelming excitement of finally being able to be comfortable with who they are.
Not only have I had positive reactions from my classmates and peers, I have had ones from staff members and people within my community. Throughout all of their reactions, it definitely has made me realize that NEDA’s current NEDAwareness Week theme of "Everybody Knows Somebody" is not only a true statement, but happens to be a more comfortable conversation for others to have when someone is bringing awareness to topics of eating disorders, body image, and self-confidence.
M: How has this project changed you personally?
L: Going into my service project I had mixed thoughts, but one thing that motivated me and gave me a push to go forward with it was what inspired me to do the project: to help those who are currently in the same position that my friend was in, preventing those from having to suffer with an eating disorder, to simply just feeling comfortable in their own skin while not caring what the media or society thinks or says.
Personally, knowing I changed the lives of those around me was overwhelming because prior to the project being created, I only expected to reach a small number of people. Instead, I made a difference in the lives of many.
Looking back now on how it has all gone with the project, even if I had made a difference in one person’s life, I would have done it again in a heartbeat.
M: Do you have any advice to any activists that want to start a positive body movement within their school?
L: First, make sure that the administration or dean is on board with it. Because once they are excited, others will be too. Before addressing the administration of your school or dean of your college campus, be sure to know who the movement will reach, what you will do to reach them and make it happen, when will the activities, presentations, or movies be going on, where will they take place, why you want to do the movement, why is it important to you or why you feel there is a need for it. You have to be able to answer those things before making an impact on others and putting all of your time, energy, and effort into a movement no matter what size it may be.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, get others involved, and go ahead and reach out to online resources for ideas for your movement. Utilize what you can and know too, that you can’t do everything you plan or hope to do. Also, be aware of the right and wrong way of bringing awareness to serious issues such as eating disorders.
Lastly, remember, no matter your age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, where you live, whether or not you’ve experienced an eating disorder or not to even what your future aspirations are, if you feel passionate about creating a positive body movement either in your school or community, no matter the size of the movement or how many people you impact, you can make a difference.
Lauren is a wonderful example of how one person has the power to make a difference. What started as a simple attempt to better understand a close friend’s illness grew into a powerful movement that is inspiring many. By creating a positive body image environment, Lauren has had the opportunity to share acceptance to a wide audience. Way to go, Lauren!
About this blogger: Mary Streech is the 18-year-old founder of The Mary Streech Project, which aims to research and provide education about eating disorders in an effort to stop eating disorders in the early stages.
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