Proud2Bme Rock Star: Margy McCallum
By Chelsea Kronengold-- Meet Margy, an inspiring young activist who formed a Proud2Bme club at John Burroughs School in St. Louis, MO.
Margy McCallum (right) and her friend and Vice President, Alex O'Neal (left), have created a safe space at their school to educate their peers about eating disorders, body acceptance and activism. I had the opportunity to talk to Margy about her motivation to start a Proud2Bme club, the structure of the organization, and her thoughts on social media's influence on body image.
Chelsea: What made you want to start a Proud2Bme club at your school?
Margy: I wanted to give our community a safe place to talk about body-image issues and to spread awareness about eating disorders: how they affect communities, how to handle them, and how to help out an affected loved one. I also wanted to encourage the student body to feel comfortable in the skin they are in.
Chelsea: Can you explain how the club is structured? What are some topics you discuss? Has the club done any community outreach?
Margy: We are a new club, so we are just starting to really get things rolling, but we meet as much as we can before school. I am the leader of the club and we have around 45 students signed up (our school is small, but mighty). So far we have educated students about eating disorders, screened dove real beauty campaign videos, brought in a speaker that had personally recovered from an eating disorder, advertised the NEDA walk, put up positive posters, and set up a compliments box. The compliments box is a box into which students can slip anonymous (filtered) compliments to their peers or teachers. Our club makes John Burroughs School a truly a brighter place.
Chelsea: On Proud2Bme.org, we have covered the issue of social media and body image. What are some experiences you and your peers have had regarding social media?
Margy: My peers and I have almost all had experiences with social media that have affected our body image in a negative way. The internet is full of hurtful things. My friends have all been offended and shocked by the "thigh-gap" movement on tumblr. Also, there are many negative things said online about women’s bodies. One of my peers found a group message where the boys in her class were posting pictures of her and her friends and saying negative things about their bodies. There are also many people on social media that edit their photos to make their bodies look perfect. This makes many girls sad because they feel like all of the people around them are unrealistically flawless, and they then compare themselves to this. It is sad how what is said and done on social media can have such a negative effect on the way we see our bodies, but we have to work to feel confident with ourselves so that the internet cannot have that power.
Chelsea: What advice would you like to give to young adults struggling with poor body image and self-esteem?
Margy: Everyone on this earth is beautiful. It may not be what the boys in your class think is "hot" or what society says is "perfect." A common misconception about beauty is that it has one definition. I'm here to tell you that's false. There are a million things about you that make you beautiful. It may be the sparkle in your eye or the smile you get after you do something you love. It may be the freckles on your cheeks or your crooked nose. It may be your positive outlook on life, or your depth. There is beauty in the way your heart never stops pumping blood to the rest of your body, the way your hair changes color in the sun, and the way you smell, touch, hear, and see. Your body is a vessel for your beautiful soul. Beauty is everywhere, and there are infinite of definitions of beauty. Find your own. No matter what, you are many types of beautiful. Believe it, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are not beautiful, because that is not true.
Chelsea: What makes you proud2bYOU?
Margy: I am proud2Bme because I have friends and family that I love, I have passions that make me smile, and I can find happiness wherever I go. I know I have the power to create a positive life. I am confident in myself and my abilities and I do not need people to tell me what I am, or what I can do. I realize that my flaws are part of what makes me "me". This is what makes me proud2Bme.
Do you know an activist who is committed to building a nation where confidence rules? Are YOU that person? Nominate a Proud2Bme Rock Star!