What makes you, your best friend, a stranger on the street, your sister, or anyone else genuinely beautiful? Is it the energy you feel when they walk into a room or perhaps their caring smile? This past month GENaustin launched a month-long GENuine Beauty program at 19 Central Texas elementary and middle schools to try and find out what #GENuineBeautyIs. This program was supported by a new grant of $57,985 from State Farm’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB), which GENaustin was lucky to receive.
In GENaustin’s afterschool program, clubGEN girls specifically discussed the unrealistic body images that are portrayed in the media of women and girls. After some life changing discussions and lessons the girls participated in a social media campaign focusing on the hashtags #loveyourselfie and #GENuineBeautyIs. The duration of the #GENuineBeautyIs program girls in clubGEN participated in making advocacy projects that promoted GENuine Beauty, such as making valentines for students not in clubGEN and making large posters with positive messages to hang throughout the school. On Valentine’s Day clubGEN girls distributed all the crafts made to students to make their day and remind them how Genuinely Beautiful they are. How incredible, right? Imagine how touching those moments were for the students! One thing that can brighten anyone’s day is a compliment or kind gesture from a stranger.
As Excutive Director, Julia Cuba explains, “Students are exposed to more than 300 advertising messages a day, and a majority of them distort the body images of women and girls to the point of being false, because nobody really looks like that. GENuine beauty teaches girls to write their own story about what beauty is and to share their voices with their peers.”
The program resulted in some incredible moments created for girls across Central Texas. GENaustin’s wonderful staff had some extraordinarily positive feedback about the success of the program.
“One of the most inspiring things I heard during the campaign was girls answering the question, “What makes you genuinely beautiful on the inside?” Girls said things like: being unique, being brave, my personality, making people laugh, not caring about what people think, etc. It was so refreshing to hear the girls unapologetically praising themselves and taking pride in their individuality.” – Rachel Thrift- clubGEN Program Manager
“I was so impressed by the deep understanding that the girls had about the meaning of GENuine beauty, the distortion of beauty created by the media, and the adverse affects it has on many girls and women. It inspired some pretty amazing interactions among the girls! I felt an increased camaraderie amongst them while they came up with creative ways to take a stand against the distortion and the harm, and promote inner beauty through short films, posters, poetry, and having the courage to approach and educate their peers. Through this campaign, more and more girls–of all ages–are redefining what beauty really is! It is an honor to be a part of it!” shared clubGEN BSW intern, Carolyn Cremona.
Celeste King, clubGEN Campus Coordinator added, “The best part of the campaign for me was seeing the girls get mad when they realized how much they are being lied to and purposely made to feel bad about themselves. In some girls you could just a see a light go off like “wait, what!?!” Being able to educate them on the realities of media’s influence on their self esteem and bring able to empower them to change the game was AMAZING!”
Want to see more? Check out all the photos from #GENuineBeautyIs on GENaustin’s Facebook.