Back in 2014, Free Being Me was launched in Australia. The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) joined forces with Dove to create a resource to help tackle the issue of appearance-related anxiety. Different activity packs were released with appropriate activities for different age groups, in 17 languages and tailored for either a girl-only or co-educational environment.
The activities were embraced all over the world, with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts sharing their experiences across various channels of social media!
When the St Lucia Girl Guides (ages 10-14) completed the Free Being Me, we all learned something new – either about the image myth or about ourselves. Here are a few of the activities we completed, you can find the full resource here.
What is the Image Myth?
We compiled a long list of the “perfect” looking girl. Everyone agreed with every suggestion, which led to a great discussion about the many contradictions of the image myth. The “perfect” girl should be slim but also curvy, with long legs but small feet. The Guides were open and honest in their conversations. Because everyone had the same (or very similar) ideas on what the perfect girl should look like, we questioned how this idea had got into our heads. Where had it come from? We talked about how the image myth makes us feel and whether or not people feel happy if they reach their idea of perfection.
Challenging the Image Myth
To celebrate our differences we made badges in the shape of stars, with a motivational or happy quote. Some girls made the badge for a friend and others made it for themselves as a personal reminder of their awesomeness.
We wrote questions and actions on jenga game pieces. If a Guide pulled out a special Free Being Me jenga piece she had to answer the question or complete the action (eg give the Guide on your left a compliment that is not based on her appearance). The really great thing about this game is that we are able to play it anytime in the future too – it’s always a positive experience to receive compliments and practise giving them! This has become one of our favourite, go-to games to play.
The Free Being Me activity pack provides a sheet of negative body-talk examples, so we printed these statements on red paper. On slips of green paper, the Guides wrote appropriate, positive responses. This gave them chance to think about and rehearse how they would respond if they heard negative body talk, or if someone said something negative to them.
The final activity is the Take Action Project. Our Guides brainstormed some really fantastic ways to educate other people about the image myth. In the end, they decided to create some Happiness Bags to hand out to shoppers at our local shopping centre. They started by decorating the outside of some simple paper bags. Then they handmade bracelets and tissue paper flowers and hand wrote positive messages onto cards. These lovingly crafted items were placed inside the bag, along with some information about Free Being Me. One evening, they stood inside the shopping centre and handed them out to shoppers.
Some shoppers returned after looking inside their Happiness Bag, to thank us. They thought the Guides were doing a great thing, spreading happiness and body-positivity. I was so proud of them!
The Take Action Project really boosted their confidence as they had to approach and talk to people they didn’t know. It was surprisingly hard to give away free goody bags (who knew?!) so the Guides really had to step outside of their comfort zone to give them all away. But in the end, every single Guide was so pleased with herself for completing the challenge and the Take Action Project. They all had smiles from ear to ear!