Shape Your Culture


On the 12th of July 2013 I was invited to attend a showcase at parliament by Stephanie Heart. Stephanie is one of the team running Shape Your Culture, a project which encourages a positive outlook on body image that took place this academic year.

The project enables young students to look with a fresh perspective on the way in which women and body image are represented and viewed by the media and society. It then gives them the opportunity to create a plan of action for themselves to share and encourage others within the education environment. The young people involved also received support sessions and advice to help them throughout the project.

‘Shape your culture is a project which uses creative activism in educational settings to help girls and young women understand how the media influences us all, to realise their unique skills, create their own media and tell their own stories.’

After hearing the positive experiences from the students it was very prevalent that there is a great demand and need for these topics to be taught permanently in education. These workshops are fantastic but the worry is that everything could be forgotten as we carry on with our everyday lives. It is important to have constant reminders, as the media is talking to us every day.

There is tremendous pressure on females, however it is important that males are not forgotten as this is a growing issue not only for women.  There seems to be a few separate issues here, the way in which the media teaches males what should be expected from a female, the way in which media teaches females what should be expected from a females and separately the pressure also on young men to look a particular way themselves. I feel it is very important for these topics to be discussed within the education system and there was so much positive feedback from the students that took part.

One of the topics highlighted was that there are not only different pressures depending on your gender but also different pressures and expectations depending on your race, it was clear that this was also a topic that should be addressed.

I was delighted to hear about all of the work that has been going on, it is very positive and exciting to consider the possibilities that could come from this. I hope to see these topics become permanently taught as part of education and I want to see more of us begin to accept ourselves as beautiful.


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