New Body-Positive Student Group

“You get nothing out of being cruel to yourself, and you gain everything by being kind,” Ginny Barrett ’20 says. “It’s a really hard lesson to learn, but once you’re there, it can be transformative. It starts as simply as looking in the mirror and saying, ‘I look good today.’”

This is the message that Ginny and Laura Bailey ’19 hope members take away from the student club Body+ which they cofounded this year: Self-confidence comes from accepting and loving the person you are today. The girls are not just close friends; they’re cousins, and from this lifelong bond they’ve guided each other through the various insecurities that arise in adolescence.

Ginny struggled with her confidence in middle school and found it hard to discuss with others. She felt invalidated when people responded to her concerns with “Stop it, you’re beautiful.”

“Obviously, when people do that, they’re trying to give you a good message and make you feel better, but they’re not really listening,” Ginny says. “Body image comes from so many outside factors pushing on you, whether it’s society, media, family or friends, which makes it harder to talk about, because you never know whether a response is going to boost you up or push you down. I wanted to create a safe environment for people to share their experiences and really listen to others, and realize they’re not alone.”

Each meeting has a focus or activity—such as the body-positive photo shoot that was held with the help of a photography student—that encourages members to love the bodies they have. At the end of each meeting, members give the person next to them a compliment, but also compliment themselves.

It’s ingrained in people to self-criticize, finding fault with everything from their weight to their complexion, from their hair type to their nose shape, Ginny and Laura say. The club is open to students of all genders.

A MINDFUL LIFE

“Forever, is composed of Nows,” wrote Emily Dickinson more than a century and a half ago—a message that resonates today more than ever. Modern life—with its overwhelming demands and distractions—makes it increasingly difficult to pause and reflect upon our lives. In this issue, Milton alumni share their stories about the power of living in the Now—of staying present to more fully assess our lives and relationships. We also feature a story about making student mental health a priority, and hear from our faculty about the importance of taking the time to listen and stay connected to ourselves.