By Ashley Lytle
Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and seen something you felt was “wrong”? I have, and so have several of my friends. These insecurities can cause depression, eating disorders, anxiety, a lack of self-confidence, and more serious issues. I have friends who starve themselves because they don’t fit this “ideal person” that society has created.
One day I woke up and realized how down I felt. I realized how much I hated who I was and I realized that several people and events had contributed to this mentality that I had developed, a mentality that so many others have developed as well.
I thought about the people in my life, the way they’ve been affected by trying to fit this “ideal” that is unreachable, and the way it has affected my life personally. I started reading about many people who were drawn so deep into depression and who had developed such a low self confidence that they decided life wasn’t worth it anymore.
I realized how easily that person could be my friends or even myself one day if something didn’t change. Then I thought about how our peers and our surroundings help contribute to this negative mindset, and I decided that I wanted to do something about it.
A lot of the people I meet don’t see this to be an issue. I think that’s because of how normal this has become in our society, and that scares me. Something that can cause such harm has become normal. That’s not how it should be.
At YEA Camp, I realized this was the issue of importance I wanted to focus on. I was introduced to an organization called the Embody Love Movement that is dedicated to helping encourage others to love themselves.
Once I got home, I reached out to the movement, asking to start a club at my school through them. I was put into contact with a woman by the name of Meghan Scanlon, who is a trained facilitator for the Embody Love Movement.
I am now three meetings into this club with 10-12 club members. We are planning on doing a few different campaigns.
This year at my school, we will be running a love mirror campaign, working to host a workshop through the Embody Love Movement, and looking into adding a mural at our school promoting loving oneself. The love mirror campaign writes kind phrases such as “you’re beautiful!” or “you’re smart!” on sticky notes. The sticky notes are posted around the edge of the mirror like a border for people to see whenever they see themselves.
We’ve only just begun as a club and are still figuring out how to navigate the road ahead of us. If there’s one thing that I’ve figured out through this experience, it’s that loving yourself can be hard when surrounded by a negative environment, even if that environment is made up by those you call your friends.
My goal is to help create a safe, nurturing, welcoming environment where everyone can feel free to embrace who they are without the notion of needing to be like the “ideal person.” The truth is, there’s no such thing as the “ideal person.” Everyone is beautiful just the way they are. They’re unique and original; they’re an imperfect perfection. That’s how it should be.
GO ASHLEY! We at YEA Camp are so inspired by your dedication to this important issue! And we LOVE Embody Love Movement! We’re thrilled to have connected you and that you’ve followed through on your action plan from camp!
If you or a teen you know wants to spend the week learning how you can make a bigger difference on the cause you’re most passionate about, while meeting other inspired young people like Ashley, join us at YEA Camp this summer.