York’s first Body Confidence Day set to inspire teenage girls

From left: Lucy, Molly and Alison, in one of a series of portraits by Andrea Denniss of Pink Lily Photography
7 Jul 2013 @ 8.48 pm
| News

It’s the first ever York Body Confidence Day on Tuesday. One of the teenage campaigners responsible for making it happen, Molly Horner, explains what it’s all about

On Tuesday July 9, 45 teenage girls will be attending the Coppergate Shopping Centre in York to take part in workshops, listen to speeches and much more in order to boost their self-esteem and body confidence.

Retailers such as Topshop, The Body Shop, Trade Secret and Fenwick will all be involved with the day, working alongside national charities such as Body Gossip and Pure Creative Arts, with even a special appearance from Maryann Cunningham, Miss York 2013.

We (Molly Horner, Lucy Freer, Alison Coates and Megan Guest) have spent around eight months of campaigning to bring about this day, which we hope will be beneficial to each and every student attending!

The campaign started as part of our Citizenship GCSE, where we were asked the question “How do we encourage greater student involvement in PSHE in schools and colleges?”. As a class we decided to get into small groups and run campaigns, and if this went well it would be a great idea to introduce to future classes.


Boosting self-esteem

As the four of us can see first-hand the effect that air-brushed photographs, size-zero models and the current “thin-culture” have on girls our age, we decided to run a campaign aimed at boosting greater body confidence in teenage girls, especially in York.

Originally, we aimed for a few days where some York retailers took down their images of airbrushed models and replaced them with their real customers. However, after sending out emails to around 80 shops, with no replies, we were pretty disheartened.

This was when we were somehow put in touch with Grace Easter, the marketing manager of the Coppergate Centre. Grace turned out to be so lovely, enthusiastic and passionate about our cause.

After telling us that it wouldn’t be realistic to hope for all of the airbrushed images to be removed for a week, as the retailers have strict instructions from head offices in London, she then suggested the idea of a day where a number of girls from our year would come down to the centre to attend themed workshops on Body Confidence. The idea has just grown and grown since then.


Amazing day ahead

When the girls get to the Coppergate Centre, they will attend these workshops, including ones from The Body Shop about achieving healthy skin without having to pile on loads of make-up, Topshop about what you think you can and can’t wear because you’re “too fat” or “too thin”, Bagel Nash on a balanced diet, which means that cake and chocolate are OK too, and the dangers of crash dieting and many more.

During the process of campaigning, we’ve met and been helped by a number amazing people, including Andrea Denniss of Pink Lily Photography, who has offered to take pictures of the day, and also shot a photoshoot of me, Lucy and Alison wearing clothes kindly donated by Topshop.

We’ve also appeared on Jonathan Cowap’s Big Conversation on Radio York, been interviewed by Jenni Murray on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and been nominated for a York Press Community Pride award, all of which are great honours.

Social media has also played a vital role in getting our message across; as of today we’ve had 181 Facebook likes, 180 Twitter followers, more than 100 people have tweeted us and we’ve had 2,043 views on our blog.

We are really looking forward to the day, and we hope that it will really boost the confidence of all the girls attending, and make them feel not just comfortable, but happy in their own skin.

I would also like to quickly thank everybody who has supported us throughout this process, from just liking or following us, to messaging, emailing and tweeting us, to agreeing to get involved in the day, to helping organise things and agreeing to let us on their radio show!