According to the Guardian, Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, is working to promote positive body image by encouraging teens to challenge traditional beauty standards. This monday she took a trip to Cheltenham’s All Saints Academy to talk to teenagers about body image. This was the first of many planned school talks she will hold on the issue.
Treweek, who is the first woman bishop in the House of Lords, explained to the Guardian, “When I talk to girls, it strikes me how much of how they view themselves and their self-worth is caught up with appearance and the way that society sees them.” Treweek said, “Issues of health and mental health are more and more linked with how people are viewed by others, and much of that begins with external appearance.” She aims to “challenge the subconscious messages we’re giving,” and points out that the language used by adults has a profound effect on the minds of teens.
Rachel uses the example of how, when adults talk to young girls, often the first thing they do is make a comment on a girl’s appearance (rather than focusing on the child’s personality, interests, or talents). Rachel Treweek made a point of telling the Guardian that she is not trying to encourage girls not to care at all about fashion or beauty, but she simply wants those “to be an expression of who they are, not their starting place.”
Bishop Rachel Treweek’s campaign for positive body image is an important one. It is an issue that all organizations, including religious organizations, need to pay attention to. As she pointed out, body image issues are not a matter of vanity. They are truly a mental health issue, and the problem is perpetuated by the focus society puts on appearance. The way to go about healing negative body image begins with reminding women that our worth is not determined by our looks.