Written by: Becca, Registered Clinical Counsellor, Foundry Virtual BC & Cassandra, Youth Peer Support Worker, Foundry Virtual BC
What is “Brave In Your Body”?
Brave in your Body is a virtual group that was created due to the need Foundry Virtual BC has witnessed with youth seeking support services for navigating poor body image. Participants between the ages of 15 and 24 were encouraged to sign up and attend our weekly virtual group, which was made up of five sessions.
We had a variety of individuals who joined us, because no matter who you are, everyone is impacted daily by media and advertisements that tell us how our bodies “should” look. Too many people have experienced (or been witness to) weight stigma, fatphobia, and weight bias. We wanted to create this safe space where participants could learn about and reflect on their experiences around these topics!
What were some of the topics discussed in the group?
We started off by discussing diet culture, thin ideals, and how these ideals are portrayed and advertised to us through cultural messaging. We also discussed how we can disrupt and fight against these narratives. We then discussed DBT (Dialectal Behavioral Therapy) skills such as distress tolerance, learned about the physical, mental, and emotional stress and health impacts of diet culture, and the importance of self-compassion.
In the last session, we dug into intuitive eating, the Health At Every Size movement, and ways to grow and promote positive body image–whew! We covered a lot! We also had the participants share (to their level of comfort) their experiences with these topics and reflect on how they might fit into their journey of self-love or self-acceptance.
What was your favorite part of facilitating the group?
We worked very hard to prepare valuable educational pieces to explain the psychology behind what contributes to the development of body image; However, what we found was most impactful in the group was when the participants started sharing their experiences with each other and started encouraging one another on their journey toward self-compassion and body love. We started to see this culture of kindness emerge in the group. It was really lovely to have these participants start to care and support each other – both in the weeks they were feeling resilient against diet culture – and in weeks where they shared experiences that were hard or distressing. It was very powerful to witness.
Even as facilitators, we learned a lot throughout the development and rollout of this group. From uncovering just how ingrained into our society and systems unrealistic beauty standards really are, to how powerful simply providing a safe, non-judgmental space is for healing and connection, this group was a huge reminder that we are not the problem, the messaging around us is.
Will you be running this group again?
Yes, Foundry Virtual BC is planning to run a body image group again! To register, please visit www.foundrybc.ca/virtual/groups-workshops
If you are looking for support in the meantime, please download the Foundry BC app, register for an account, and schedule an appointment with a service provider. Our site also offers more information on body image, disordered eating and eating disorders to help you no matter where you are on your journey.
About the facilitators: Cassandra and Becca
Becca has been a Registered Clinical Counselor for over 6 years and works at Foundry Virtual BC part-time as a Counselor. She specializes in body image, disordered eating, and is passionate about dismantling diet culture.
Cassandra is a Youth Peer Support Worker with Foundry Virtual BC. With almost three years of peer support work experience under her belt, Cassandra uses her lived experience with eating disorders, anxiety, depression, chronic illness and CPTSD to walk alongside and empower the youth she works with, wherever they are at in their mental health journey.
Both Cassandra and Becca know how confusing and challenging it can be to navigate body image in a world that perpetuates and ties one’s worth to being able to attain unrealistic and unsustainable beauty standards. Their hope is that Foundry Virtual BC’s Brave in Your Body group can act as a helping hand for those navigating these difficult messages and pressures.
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