Project Need and Process
Our goal was to teach students the importance of self-love. The short term outcomes to effect change with the students were to create a curriculum in which we would teach a group of around twenty middle school girls the meaning of self-love and the significance behind it. We focused on teens because that is where we saw the biggest impact of low self-esteem, based off of research and personal experience. Statistics stated 75 percent of 8- and 9-year-olds said they liked their looks but then dropped to 56 percent among girls ages 12 and 13. The percentage rate continue to drop as girls begin high school. The long-term outcome for the students would be that they are able to show support towards other girls and help raise their self-esteem. This aligns with our impact area, Health and Wellness, because we focused on what self-love is and how to accept our individual selves, as well as other topics that cause mental health to plummet in teenage girls.
To help resolve the issues we idenitified, we created a 6-session curriculum that we taught to middle school girls from Animo Florence Firestone, the middle school that feeds into our high school. We knew we wanted to create a curriculum, but since there were so many topics we could cover, we had to make some tough choices and narrow it down to the ones we thought were the most important.
We started by identifying the issues pre-teen girls are more likely to have. Then we tried to group the issues and settled on four main categories and developed a separate lesson for each one: Individuality, Physical Appearance, Friendships, and Negative Thoughts. Each lesson was roughly 45 minutes, allowing the middle schoolers time to interact and ask and answer any questions. We taught our first session in early March and held our final session, a "graduation" celebration, on May 1.
But we didn’t just want to focus on the girls at Animo Florence Firestone--we also wanted to involve our own students and staff and get them to think about and stand up against societal norms that make females feel unconfident about their appearance and self-worth. To challenge this societal norm, we created a photo exhibit that any female student or staff member could participate in. The project consisted of the women having their picture taken without makeup to go against societal norms that women have to wear makeup to feel beautiful, and be confident. We then displayed the images in an exhibition that we placed in a part of campus where all students and staff--male and female--could see multiple times each day as they walked to class. This forced them to think about typical gender conventions and why it is taken for granted that girls and women should wear make-up.