Students: School's halls shouldn't be catwalks
Campaign tells Olentangy High School students to accept their bodies for what they are
Harrison Mbemba signs the Confidence Pledge for Teens in front of DECA members Aubrey Gore and Nathan Hershiser while a life-size proportional replica of a Barbie doll stands by Tuesday, Nov. 27, at Olentangy High School. The school's DECA students are running a campaign to instill confidence and self-esteem in students over the way they look. Buy This Photo
Magazine models are almost always beautiful, but they're not always realistic.
Three Olentangy High School seniors will broadcast before-and-after images of digitally altered models on TV sets in their school's commons area this week, showing how computer programs are used to artificially slim bodies and smooth skin.
The effort will help them kick off a new campaign to get students to love themselves and their bodies.
"There's so much pressure to look a certain way, and it's driven by the kinds of images you see in magazines," said senior Bri McCade, 17. "Everyone is affected, but those messages really stick with teenagers. We're trained to have a very specific idea of beauty instead of just accepting ourselves for who we are."
McCade, with classmates Deborah Song, 18, and Sophie Tran, 17, started the campaign to promote self-confidence and a healthful body image as part of the DECA program, their school's business track.
This week, they're hosting a variety of activities to engage students at school, and they're in the early stages of planning projects that will extend beyond the walls of Olentangy High School in the months to come.
The campaign will go up against projects by other DECA students in the public relations division at the state competition, set for March 1. The top four projects will move on to the national competition in Anaheim, Calif.
For now, they are spreading their message at school. On Tuesday, Nov. 27, the group set up a human-sized Barbie doll at the school to demonstrate how unrealistic the doll's exaggerated hourglass figure is.
"If Barbie was a real person, she wouldn't even be able to stand up, but girls grow up thinking they have to have a body that looks like that anyway," Tran said.
On Wednesday, Nov. 28, students from the OHS Art Club planned to draw caricatures of their classmates. The drawings will spotlight students' best features, Tran said.
Today and Friday, Nov. 29-30, students will have the opportunity to slip on padded sumo suits and participate in just-for-fun wrestling matches.
"It's something to get them up on their feet and show them it's fine to look silly as long as you're having fun," McCade said.
Throughout the week, students will sign a banner and recite a confidence pledge in the lunch room.
"The pledge is about being confident in myself and understanding that there's more to me than my body," Tran said.
The group is planning other events in the months to come, including a possible event for Shanahan Middle School girls that would feature games and activities.
They also will promote their message during spring's Challenge Day, a special event advocating for inclusiveness and acceptance.
"The whole idea is to try to get bigger and include as many people as possible and draw them in with the campaign's message," DECA teacher Eric Wells said.
They have big shoes to fill in Wells' classroom. In 2010, his students won first place in the PR division at the national competition for a project about the dangers of texting and driving.