Bold Resources: About Face

Hey Bold readers! We’ve got another great Bold Resource for you! We’re currently looking to do a much more in depth look at About Face, an incredible non-profit that focuses on body and face image. In the meantime, here’s a little bit about the group.

About-Face equips women and girls with tools to understand and resist harmful media messages that affect their self-esteem and body image. We do this through our three programs: Education Into Action media-literacy workshops; Take Action, which enables girls and women to develop and execute their own actions; and About-Face.org, their web site.

They are based in San Francisco, California. At this time, their workshops and action groups reach throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. But you can check them out on the web from all over the world. The About-Face vision is to imbue girls and women with the power to free themselves from the burden of body-image problems so they will be capable of fulfilling their varied and wondrous potentials.

Everywhere girls and women look, they see messages about their bodies and their selves, telling them they must be tall, blonde, tan, and sexually available. In fact, a woman can rarely separate her feelings about her physical body from her self-worth, especially in our media-saturated society. And the messages even the youngest girls are seeing and hearing are skewed, sexualized, and sexist.

These messages, part of what About-Face calls the “toxic media environment,” are contributing to a host of girls’ and women’s ills, including low self-esteem, depression, persistent anxiety over weight and appearance, extremely unhealthy diets and exercise regimens, and eating disorders. All of these problems interfere with a woman’s ability to function to the best of her abilities.

How it Started

In 1995, Kathy Bruin acted on her frustration with the unrealistic and limited images of women in advertising, not knowing that she was starting a movement and an organization. Using a photo of model Kate Moss from a Calvin Klein ad for Obsession fragrance, Kathy created a poster that stated “Emaciation Stinks” and “Stop Starvation Imagery”. Her friends and family helped her hang the poster on construction sites across San Francisco, and her personal rebellion received national media coverage.

This seminal action prompted an influx of supportive mail, unsolicited donations, and requests for information from people all over the country. By 1998, About-Face had 12 members, and Bruin began participating in panel discussions and other public education events about body acceptance, eating disorders, and the link with negative images of women in media. In 1997, she was a guest panelist at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee during a special event called “The Power of the image”

Today, About Face hosts their own blog, two photo galleries (of “winners” and “offenders”), directory of sites, ways you can get involved and make changes, etc. They are a GREAT bold resource.

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