Amy is a university student from Essex who was driven to study Nutrition and Public Health because of her interest in body image and wanting to make sure that no one puts their health at risk whilst striving to achieve their perception of the “ideal body. She joined the Be Real Campaign throughout the summer as a volunteer intern and before heading off to Vietnam for a second volunteer role, Amy wrote this blog about her time with us and what working on the Be Real Campaign taught her about her own body image.
Throughout July and August I did an internship with the Be Real Campaign. It’s a campaign that is so important to me and one that I resonate with on a personal level.
My experience with low body confidence and self-esteem has been going on for years. Because so many people around me felt the same way, I always thought that it was normal to feel negatively about my body. It’s only been recently that I began to recognise the impact low body confidence was having on me. It kept me away from doing the things that I enjoy, made me anxious around food, and even had a damaging effect on my relationships.
Once I realised the amount of memories I have missed out on I was angry at myself and made a promise to forget about my ‘hang-ups’ and enjoy life regardless of what I look like.
I decided to set up my own volunteer project in Sheffield, where I go to university, to deliver workshops to a local secondary school. My hope is that by doing so, young people won’t have to feel the way that I, and so many others have felt about their bodies, and therefore don’t miss out on experiences like I have. Although it’s in its initial stages, it is something that has already had a huge impact on my own confidence and self-esteem, something that I wasn’t expecting at all.
Whilst researching for my project I came across the Be Real Campaign and when I saw that they were looking for an intern to join their team, I immediately applied.
The internship was very different to being at university where I study Nutrition and Public Health. It allowed me to learn more about marketing and communications and the processes behind a campaign within the workplace, which I haven’t gained from my degree. When I applied, I didn’t care what the Be Real Team threw at me I just wanted to see behind the scenes of the campaign. I was determined to get involved because I wanted to get as much experience as I could, and I ended up loving it.
Every opportunity is a good opportunity, and whilst it was work that seemed different from my degree, it allowed me to gain skills that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Social media was an eye opener for me. I usually feel rubbish and down because of social media and because of that I have been on and off it for the past year. When I first started with the Be Real Campaign I was so inexperienced and only really knew the basics i.e. how to post a photo. I had to ask how to use Instragram stories, something that is so natural for most young people. Taking responsibility for the Be Real Campaign’s social media channels made me realise that it isn’t something to dread, but can be something that can push and highlight positive messages and build a community of likeminded people, if you follow the right accounts.
I also realised that my degree and the campaign have a lot more in common than I thought. This became clear when I got involved in the launch of the Body Image Pledge for individuals. I got to ask where the idea came from, how they put it in motion, how they monitor the impact the initiative has, and what’s going to happen after the launch. That is all very much a part of public health too. Whilst I study the information behind campaigns at university, seeing one in action has taught me so much more about the processes and the decisions along the way. I always thought I’d go down the nutrition route and I’m now really excited about the prospect of my degree and finding out what else I can do with public health. In an ideal world I would love to continue to do work around body image, but what this internship has taught me is that there can be something amazing in the unexpected.
I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of the launch of the Pledge. When I read through the Be Real Ambassador stories, I related to them so much, and I’m sure many others have too. They highlight just how amazing life can be if you just choose to be happy and not care about your looks, and I find that really motivating and inspiring.
Now that my internship has come to an end, I am sad to leave the Be Real Campaign because I’ve been really surprised at the effect it has had on me.
I didn’t do the internship to become more confident in myself, I didn’t expect to learn all these new things or be able to have so many opportunities to make my mark on the campaign. I just wanted to be a part of it. I met some amazing people and I was surrounded by so much positivity, I even felt comfortable enough posting an unfiltered photo on Instagram after I signed the Pledge. If that isn’t a lot to gain from an opportunity such as this, I don’t know what is.