BE REAL™ is changing a culture that isn’t working for any body.
BE REAL’s MISSION
We’re spreading body confidence across the entire USA, so every child can grow up with a healthy relationship to food and their body.
BE REAL is a growing, nonprofit organization that links caring people in local communities, businesses, and government organizations with opportunities to change our culture which isn’t working well for any one’s body image in today’s world.
We live in a time and place obsessed with appearance. Today’s social media—where so many young people edit and curate their own images—has created a culture where 70% of adolescent girls and 40% of adolescent boys don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. Our children feel “flawed in comparison” to “perfect looking” images they see on Instagram, TikTok, and other visual social media. Young people’s body dissatisfaction contributes to serious mental health problems, like eating disorders, depression, isolation, anxiety, risky sexual behavior, substance abuse, and low self-esteem.
Our children’s focus on their bodies—how they appear to others, what measurements they need to meet, and what to feed them — has become an overwhelming distraction in their lives. It steals their time and energy because they spend so much of that time and energy focused on how they look. What could they do or how could they grow if they had all that time back? Research shows that children who grow up body confident have better physical and mental health, perform better in and out of school, and are more likely to fulfill their unique potential.
BE INVOLVED IN THE BE REAL™ MOVEMENT
Schools are a crucial part of the body confidence equation for kids. BE REAL trains teachers on how to create a body confident school environment. We have workshops that teachers can give to parents, too. BE REAL links teachers to free, evidence-based curriculum they can use in their classrooms or after-school groups.
Bring body confident resources to teachers and parents at your school.
BE REAL supports legislative policy initiatives endorsed by STRIPED, the eating disorder prevention incubator at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Together with STRIPED we are creating tools to empower youth and adults to advocate for a body confident future.
Raise your voice in support of kids growing up free of pressure to conform to appearance ideals.
Donate now to support BE REAL’s mission. Your tax-deductible donation goes directly to trainings and materials for teachers. We have other exciting giving opportunities for funding larger projects with potential for greater impact.
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, curated 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 Diet 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 educators how to create body confident schools. We give them our free, evidence-based, body image curriculum Be Real’s BodyKind. In this way, we are changing culture teacher-by-teacher and student-by-student.
Join us and help change a culture that isn’t working for literally any body.