By Jelysa Hernandez, LSW, MSW
Countless high school aged young women, regardless of ethnicity or upbringing, experience low self-esteem.
According to a study conducted among female high school aged students, 80 percent claimed that negative remarks from others contributed to their low self-esteem and poor body image (Statistics on Self Esteem). On July 28th & 30th, PATHWAYS held a two day “Embody Love” workshop for 12-15 young women who regularly attend the Pathways’ summer program.
“Embody Love” promotes an awareness of positivity and empowerment while incorporating yoga and mindfulness. On the first day of the workshop, facilitators engaged the group using magazines, videos and personal discussion. They were shown how the media portrays females and how we are taught to judge ourselves and others based on specific physical standards. The teenagers began to discuss healthy ways of caring for their mind, body and soul, as well as, the benefits of embracing their perceived flaws.
At one point, the girls began to share and reflect through personal stories of being bullied. Kayla, 15, stated, “Wouldn’t it be nice if people judged others based on their actions rather than their looks?” Jazzy, 14, added, “People should be able to exercise for themselves because they love their body, not because they hate it.”
During one powerful and touching activity, the girls were encouraged to write their own flaws and negative self-talk on post-it notes anonymously. Two facilitators then began to read these anonymous comments out loud and post them on the third facilitator to demonstrate how heavy negativity weighs physically and emotionally. The girls were then encouraged to rip these comments to shreds and free themselves of negativity through changing their mindset.
Following this powerful experience, the group was then required to create pledges using positive affirmations. As a concluding exercise, the girls went around the room and wrote positive post its for each other. Each girl was covered in positive statements both about their external and their internal beauty.
The girls moved through a process of feeling the heaviness of negativity through to the immense power and freedom in feeling positive about oneself and the knowledge that giving positivity to your peers can be life changing for them.
For more information about Embody Love Movement and Embody Love Clubs, please click here.