Judging by the number of enquiries arriving in the Girls Out Loud inbox at the moment it would appear every female University student in the UK is writing a thesis on body confidence! Over the past 12 months I have been asked to comment, provide content and resources, spare 2 hours to be interviewed and in some cases, write the thesis outline for them.
It seems to be a given that if you work with teenage girls your focus must surely be body confidence and whilst I accept this does come into play it is not our sole purpose, nor is it the only route to nurturing confident, empowered, resilient and aspirational young women.
If we see body confidence as the panacea for all, we are misleading girls and guilty of putting 99% of our attention to an area we are trying to deconstruct i.e. appearance!
Confidence does not only come from feeling good about your body, it is harnessed when
• You take risks
• You try something new
• You achieve stuff
• You assert your opinions
• You stand out in a crowd
• You demand self-respect
• You dump bad friends or step away from negative peer groups
• You become a leader
• You get praise or recognition for a job well done
Do I need to go on?
Loving your body will not solve sexism; the gender pay gap or sexual harassment. It will not stop 2 women a week being murdered by partners or ex partners, nor will it halt the rape culture being normalised on University campuses.
It is not a fix all and we are in danger of marginalising the big picture of female empowerment if we don’t turn the volume down a little on this looped message.
Written by Jane Kenyon, Founder of Girls Out Loud