Editor’s Note:  This article was originally posted at Baby on the Brehm

There is a group of students in Kansas doing wonderful work. They are starting a rebellution. No. That’s not a typo. The group, REbeL, is tackling a major issue affecting youth today. And if you haven’t heard about them, you should. 

Even if it hadn’t been the brainchild of a beautiful woman I know and love, I would find this concept incredible and inspired. REbeL is a student-led peer education program designed to equip teens with the knowledge and confidence to REbeL against the social pressures and ideologies surrounding body image. The students are educated on topics including the prevalence of eating and body image issues, the inefficacy of diets, the Health at Every Size philosophy, the impact of negative self-talk, and media literacy. The REbeL members dialogue about these issues, strive to improve their own self-esteem and confidence and eventually become leaders in encouraging their peers to move toward healthier relationships with food and their bodies.

I love REbeL and I wish it would have had a resource like this when I was in high school. I wish, for myself and so many others that I know, that it would have been okay to talk openly about body issues, disordered eating, and the insecurities we carried around tucked neatly in our backpacks. I wish it would have been acceptable to be something different than cookie cutter. I wish it would have been easier to be me. Like it is now.

I used the feature image photo above because it’s one of my favorites. Not because Ifeel like I look beautiful but because I know I look full of beauty. It is one of those moments in life that is so natural. So pure. So without any other care in the world. No makeup. No hair done. Definitely no fancy clothes. But a smile so genuine, and a heart so full. And it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me in it. No one can take that moment, that happiness, away.

I don’t know if it’s time. Or if it’s maturity. Or if it’s motherhood {no, I am not advocating people get pregnant to boost their confidence}. But now, I REbeL. That is not to say I don’t enjoy a good opportunity to get gussied, that I’ve completely abandoned makeup {because makeup is more a hobby than a philosophy} or that I wake up every morning and shout to the rooftops about how much I love my post-pregnancies body, it just means that have been able to free myself, for the most part, from everyone else’s expectations. Now my negative thoughts can be managed and put into perspective. Because when we get down to brass tacks, a size 6 never conquered the problems of the world…but rather the person inside of it did.

Twelve years ago, I never would have shared a photo of myself that showed such vulnerability. I would not have wanted to think of how those around me might be judging my appearance. In a time when I attempted, throughout the day, to flush my insecurities down the toilet, I would have never wanted people to actually have an opportunity to judge my imperfections. But today, I REbeL. I REbeL against the definition of beauty that is present in society. I REbeL against the belief that skinny=happiness. I REbeL against the idea that the size of my jeans=my personal value. And I suppose it’s partially because of the message of the group, REbeL, that I’ve found my way. It’s knowing that, if women and men younger than me can muster the courage to stop fat talk and find their inner perfections, then can certainly work toward that as well.

I want, for our children to grow up not only hearing that all people are beauty-full but also knowing and believing it. I don’t want it to take them decades to see their value and to feel secure. I don’t want them to  have to feel so insecure. And so mediocre. Because they can REbeL …and on this topic, I can only hope they do. 

Find out more about REbeL and the opportunity to donate to this ground breaking organization here.

Ashli Brehm

Ashli Brehm = Thirtysomething. Nebraska gal. Life blogger. Husker fan. Creative writer. Phi Mu sister. Breast cancer survivor. Boymom. Premie carrier. Happy wife. Gilmore Girls fanatic. Amos Lee listener. Coffee & La Croix drinker. Sarcasm user. Jesus follower. Slipper wearer. Funlover. Candle smeller. Yoga doer. Pinterest failer. Anne Lamott reader. Tribe member. Goodness believer. Life enthusiast. Follow me at http://babyonthebrehm.com/