Meet Denise Hamburger, Founder & Executive Director
A few years ago I was guest-lecturing in a 10th grade Health class in a high school north of Chicago. As I entered the classroom the teacher told me that 4 kids -of the 24 kids in this class – had already been diagnosed with an eating disorder. That was twice the already-appalling national average for a mental illness with one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness! “What is going on?!” I asked the teacher. “We are fighting an epidemic of body image problems without any tools,” she replied. “The kids are on social media all day long, seeing highly-edited pictures of perfect looking people. They feel flawed in comparison.”
I trained as a body image facilitator hoping to serve this generation of kids suffering from rampant body image problems. I understood what body dissatisfaction was, having grown up with it myself in the 1970s. Back then we had beauty narrowly defined by the rail-thin women coming into our living rooms every night on TV. It was easy to feel flawed in comparison to the actresses on Charlie’s Angels, and they were only on once a week! Our kids have way more pressure to look like an ideal growing up in today’s appearance-obsessed Kardashian Culture. They are bombarded with thousands of images of digitally altered, perfect-looking people coming at them in a constant stream in their social media feeds.
I founded BE REAL to address kids’ body dissatisfaction – considered normal in this culture – by promoting culture change. We have education resources that teach teachers how to create body confident schools, linking them to body image curriculum to use in their classrooms. We are changing culture teacher-by-teacher and student-by-student. We also empower young and older people to support laws which foster body confident home and school environments with our legislative advocacy work.
Join us and help change a culture that isn’t working for literally any body.