Dear Little Kristina,
I hope you know that your greatest strengths are not held in what you look like. You have so many gifts to offer the world – you are smart, vivacious, a born leader, an innovator, and have the potential to make a huge impact in the world. None of this depends on what you look like. These are the traits that I hope you spend time cultivating and developing.
Looks are immutable. Pouring time and energy into them is stupid; they don’t change! All the time you spend dieting, getting facials, doing your hair, trying to look perfect – is just wasted time. Instead, you could spend time cultivating the things that matter – developing deep relationships, learning about the world, working on changing it.
In the end, you will be most beautiful when you are confident – putting your natural leadership abilities into action and using your intelligence to inspire the world. I hope that you will come to understand this sooner rather than later. When you attract people to yourself that like you for these real reasons, not simply because of your looks, that is when you will truly be fulfilled and happy.
Project HEAL’s new peer-based support program, Communities of HEALing, will include an evidence-based eating disorder prevention and body acceptance program known as the Body Project. The Body Project is an intervention that was developed by renowned researchers Eric Stice, Ph.D and Carolyn Becker, Ph.D and is backed by two decades of research at Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Oregon Research Institute. This program has been delivered to over one million young women around the world and is the only program that has repeatedly demonstrated reductions of body dissatisfaction, negative mood, unhealthy dieting and disordered eating. Further evidence indicates that the Body Project intervention reduces the risk of future onset of eating disorders and obesity.
Recently, Project HEAL held its first facilitator training of the Body Project with some of our volunteers from NYC and PA, all of whom are in recovery from an eating disorder. One of the activities that all volunteers completed as part of the Body Project program was to write a letter to a younger version of themselves using the information they learned from other sessions of the intervention and advise their younger selves on how to avoid developing body image concerns. The letters shared were truly powerful and we are thrilled to have some of our new facilitators share their letters with you!