The last few months I’ve worked with my fellow leaders to support the Guides through a programme called Free Being Me. Our grand finale was to have the girls work with a photographer (my friend, Anneleen – who just had one of her photos published in the New York Times don’t ya know!) to design their own self portraits that reflect who they are as unique individuals as well as being sisters through Girlguiding.
Throughout the time doing Free Being Me the girls learned how to critically reflect on messages in the media, dealing with negative comments spoken over them, how to encourage friends and family members to be more confident in their own skin. They shared secret encouraging messages that they left in jars for each other during our meetings, had a wall of pictures and quotes they found encouraging and/or inspiring – and they shared it all with the public a few weekends ago.
When two of the girls were preparing a poster to explain about what they’d done during Free Being Me and their exhibition they wrote this (and I might add this is THEIR words, no leaders prompted anything – as we were busy trying to get a laminator to work and figure out double sided sticky tape respectively)
“We’ve created this photo exhibition to help other people understand what we‘ve learned – that beauty within is more important than what you look like on the outside. There is too much pressure on girls to look a certain way in today’s society – our message is that everyone is beautiful in their own way. Doing our ‘Free Being Me’ badge has helped us to expose the beauty myth for what it is and learn that there’s far more to life than conforming.“
A friend and fellow blogger posted a fun thing on facebook, asking several questions and everyone gave their answers in the comments. One of the questions was ‘If there’s one thing you could change about your body in an instant, what would it be??’ I wanted to cry as I saw answer after answer popping up on my feed. ‘Weight…baby belly…all the fat…weight…weight…‘
A few years ago I wrote a post on my old blog about learning to accept my body’s ‘quirks’. They are just part of what makes me – me! They make me recognisable. I had to laugh when my friend told me she recognised my back going up an escalator because “she recognised the hair”.
But that’s not all what makes me who I am. It’s when I dance around the kitchen singing along to the How I Met Your Mother theme tune. It’s being at work and once again managing to cover my chest in coffee or cream cheese scrubbing things at the end of the day. It’s not being able to understand how someone could get stuck in an airport with no phone because why wouldn’t you make sure you had a charger AND travel adaptor in your hand luggage when you travel. Along with a spare change of clothes “just in case”. Or how I’ll get the giggles at way my ballet teacher explains things. Or how I’ll whoop and cheer very loudly for my friends. Or why I’d rather be in a book shop than a clothes shop. And how much I hate going to night clubs…
The world is constantly trying to tell us what we should look like, how we should run our families, how we should enjoy spending our time and money.
Sometimes it matches up with who you are, and other times it will totally go against it.
Be yourself. It’s the best person you can be.
The world is better with you being YOU.
And to keep being yourself is a worthy battle to keep fighting for.