By Becca Feldman, Rachel Gorman-Cooper & Maya Kendall
This year, as fellows in Kol Isha, NFTY NAR’s Teen Feminist Fellowship, we were given the opportunity to choose a topic that we feel passionate about and create a project about it. Our group chose the topic of Body Positivity because we feel that it is not only about accepting your physical appearance, but also accepting your personality, and that affects how you treat others. Although we live in a modern society, beauty standards are not diverse enough yet.
In creating our project, we learned a plethora of things. We learned that Judaism promotes loving oneself more than we originally thought. For example, b’tzelem elohim is the idea that everyone is created in the image of God, so we have to love God with all of our energy. If we must love God and we are created in God’s image, we must then love ourselves. We also learned that feeling good on the outside can help one to feel better on the inside. Additionally, we realized that self-care is necessary in everyone’s life, and the first step to feeling confident in your body is often accepting your body for how it is. Moreover, we acquired the knowledge that body confidence is about appreciating the physical capabilities one possesses. In researching why evolution relates to body positivity, we discovered that although we were genetically programmed as nomads to see thinner people as attractive, we have the power to shift this view as times have changed. Once, it was hard to obtain food through hunting and gathering and that was the norm, today food is accessible and people of all shapes and sizes are healthy. We must try to see things differently.
We conducted research both together and separately on how body positivity connects to judaism, science, and media to create our project. Eventually, we created a program with a slideshow presentation and activities to help convey the idea that loving yourself is pertinent. Some of the activities include filling out a self-care brainstorm worksheet, categorizing pop culture references, and writing positive words on mirrors for people to look into. After creating it, we presented it at NFTY NAR’s Leadership Summit and anticipate to present it to our fellow congregants at our respective synagogues in the Fall. We are also currently considering creating a blog so that a variety of people have a resource to use when feeling insecure about their bodies and/or appearance (if you’re interested in this, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!).
Body positivity is important because each individual has insecurities, and if there is an atmosphere of body acceptance, there is less of a stigma about a body having to look one certain way and people can achieve confidence more easily.
Body positivity is the trigger of a domino effect; once people can accept their appearances, self confidence and satisfaction with their life is possible. We created an opportunity for people to learn how to practice self-care and body positivity and the link below is a way of teaching others about how they can join this movement. It has been a pleasure learning, teaching, and spreading the idea of loving your body.
You can view the teaching powerpoint we developed on Body Positivity here.
Feel free to use this in your own youth groups, camps, communities, friend circles, etc. Email us at email@example.com to let us know if you’ve used it, how it went, or if you have other questions.
Rachel, Becca and Maya are fellows in Kol Isha, NFTY-NAR’s NY Teen Feminist Fellowship. They created this project with guidance from Ariel Milan-Polisar, a rabbinic student at HUC-JIR in New York City and alumna of NFTY-NAR.
To see Rachel’s blog post on gender socialization, click here.