If the success of a school program can be judged by the amount of students jumping out of their seats, hands up, eager to participate, and still talking about what they’ve learned weeks afterward, The SAFE Foundation’s Healthy Body Image Presentation by Dalia Abott LMSW, RD, was a resounding success. Dalia presented to three assemblies of middle division and high school girls in Magen David Yeshivah on December 24th. Students said the program was life-changing.

One of the things Dalia emphasized was that there is a way to speak nicely to oneself. She said that often when we get a compliment, we refuse to accept the positive words. Sometimes we express our negative responses aloud, and other times, we speak them quietly to ourselves. She said that if we find that we are using the word “BUT” after receiving a compliment, we should know that we are going to an unhealthy place and should back up. Dalia used a loud, “Stop it!” shout to show how to silence negative voices telling us we are anything less than wonderful. She said that those voices are not our friends and that we do have the choice of how we want to speak to ourselves.

She asked, “Has anyone here ever not gone somewhere because of how they looked? Has anyone here ever compared themselves to someone else?” Most all did.

At one point, Dalia split the room into two, charging one group to chant, “Perfect people aren’t real!” and the other to call out, “Real people aren’t perfect!” To drive this point home, Dalia showed a video of an image of a woman’s face being photo-shopped to be “model” beautiful. Dalia emphasized, “Beauty is not a mold. Let your beauty shine from within.”

A most fascinating portion of the program was when Dalia asked volunteers to read the names of body parts that were pre-written on cards. Each girl was asked to think of different functions of that particular body part. This exercise highlighted that aside from the visual, there are many important aspects of the body. This took the concept of beauty to a whole new level.

A few days later, students told SAFE teachers that the program introduced them to ideas that that will stay with them forever, adding that since then, they have been practicing positive self-talk, accepting compliments graciously, and using the “Stop it!” phrase when necessary. They exclaimed, “And – it feels good!”