New club will promote self-acceptance, high self-esteem

Maddie Jewett, Features Editor

A high school girl walks into the bathroom hoping to fix her disheveled braid only to notice the mirrors are covered with tissue paper.
Written on the paper were things like ‘Get back to class,’ and ‘You are beautiful.’
The REbeL club at BV Northwest covered mirrors in their building to promote the idea that everyone is beautiful.
This idea drives the creation of the REbeL club, which will start at BV next year.
REbeL is a student-led peer education program that works to promote positive body image.
The BVNW chapter wanted to expand the club after three years. All BV, Olathe and Shawnee Mission schools were asked to participate.
Club members contacted BV and asked if any teachers would like to sponsor the club. FACS teacher Kendra Smith, Communication Arts teacher Jessica Edwards, Spanish teacher Jill Gouger and school psychologist Julie Seitter all volunteered.
REbeL is a non-profit organization, in which all money raised goes to charities and other organizations. REbeL raises money through activities such as a pancake breakfast and other small fundraisers at school.
“Last year, we used some of the money to donate books to some elementary school libraries,” BVNW REbeL leader Jane LoBosco said. “One of the books was about how it’s OK to be different. It was super cheesy, but it was cute.”
The club also does things like sticking motivational notes on students’ lockers and organizing a 3-mile walk.
They hold a Fat Talk Week, which raises awareness of the harmful effects of talking badly about themselves and others.
“We also have whiteboard activities,” LoBosco said. “The whiteboards say ‘I am beautiful because…’ and then each person gets to write what they are beautiful for. We have our walk coming up, and that gets a lot of people from the community involved.”
REbeL will extend to all the BV schools for the 2012-2013 school year, and LoBosco said she hopes to see all the chapters of the club collaborate and work together.
“Next year, at the third annual walk, we will all come together and represent all the chapters,” LoBosco said. “I’m really excited about the other BV schools joining REbeL because we’ve been the only chapter for three years now. There’s power in numbers, so to be able to see more people join and see how far it will go will be cool.”
Students interested in joining were required to fill out applications that asked specific questions relating to the club’s message. Smith said the club will have about 20-25 members, both boys and girls.
“We want to make sure that the core group will be able to spread the message of REbeL throughout the school,” Smith said.
LoBosco said many girls get involved in REbeL because of personal connections to people struggling with body image.
“I have an older sister, and she would always talk badly about her body,” she said. “I always thought it was just a normal thing that all teenagers did, so I didn’t really think anything of it. But I decided to do the club with my friend, and once I got into it, it turned out to be amazing.”
BV sophomore Alex Kontopanos heard about the club through her BVNW friends from church.
“I am really passionate about helping people with their self-confidence,” she said. “I would really like to play a big part in the club.”
Kontopanos said she wants to see BV promote the positive ideas REbeL focuses on.
“I have a lot of friends that have had eating disorders,” she said. “I know that a lot of girls aren’t happy with their bodies. We all have our ups and downs. Everyone is beautiful, and it could be really cool if our school could promote this idea, especially to the kids that are uncomfortable with themselves.”
LoBosco said being involved in REbeL has changed the way she sees other people.
“I view people with a different perspective of beauty,” she said. “Before, I only saw people from the outside, like ‘Oh, that girl’s so pretty. I love her hair,’ but now I see their genuine characteristics that truly make them beautiful. It’s a really big eye-opener. Everyone has something that makes them beautiful, and it is so cool to see them be able to recognize that.”