Rebel Body Positive Model Charli Howard Launches #MoreThanANumber Campaign Aimed At Empowering Girls

charli-howard

She is the rebel model whose cry of “F**k You!” to her ex-modeling agency for telling her to lose weight was heard around the world back in November. We’re talking about Charli Howard, who didn’t think twice about “biting the hand that feeds” in order to send a loud and clear message that women are fed up with being told to conform and adjust to fit into pre-ordained body standards perpetuated by the fashion industry in order to be considered beautiful, employable and successful.

But her viral post on Facebook wasn’t the end of her newfound mission to promote healthy body standards and female empowerment. Charli teamed up with SheKnows Media’s Hatch Kids program which has done a wonderful job of elevating the younger generation of voices on topics such as feminism, and now body image.

Along with being interviewed by a young representative from Hatch Kids, Charli also got the chance to promote her #MoreThanANumber campaign which is a social media hashtag designed to engage the world in the body positive conversation.

We normally associate numbers with size, weight or age, three categories that have become a source of much discrimination for men and women if they fall outside the narrow boundaries we see exhibited in spaces such as the Victoria’s Secret Annual Runway Show, the cover of Vogue Magazine, or the latest luxury fashion billboard campaign.

Charli’s campaign aims to reclaim the whole numbers conundrum by getting people to share numbers than have significance other than age, weight or size in their life.

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“Maybe it’s the date you passed an important exam or the number of pets you have or the number of close friends you’ve got. It’s not about what you look like; it’s about you as a person,” she told Stylecaster about #morethananumber.

Inspired by the power Charli felt to speak publicly about her disdain of industry weight standards, the young girl in the Hatch Kids video asked her how other women and girls can also raise their voices.

“A lot of the time society says that women and girls can’t speak out and that we’re there just to be looked at. But I think if you’re aware that you’ve got a voice just use it, and believe in yourself as well,” answered Charli.

She also had a chance to her her advice with the young girl, as well as many other young girls who will watch the video.

“I think it’s really important that girls of your age, when they’re looking at magazines and TV shows and movies, they realize it is make believe. More than a number was something I came up with to teach young girls they are more than a clothing size, because ever since size 0 came out, girls have equated “beautiful” with a label size which is really ridiculous…beauty comes in so many different shapes,” said Charli.

It’s not only admirable and awesome that she is imparting wisdom face-to-face with a representative of the next generation of women, it is vitally important. If we ever hope to see the young girls of today grow up with confidence that we and and older women never had because of the pressures we faced, it has to start while they are young.

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It is a tough landscape to even find positive messages aimed at girls when celebrities, pop culture and entertainment are more geared toward what drives sales and ratings, rather than what constitutes a healthy, positive message.

Eatingdisorders.com writer Lauren Muhlheim recently shared an article about what young girls are up against in this fight.

“In the context of the war on obesity, too much focus is placed on being thin. Weight bias is experienced by children as young as three. Negative body image and body shame are linked to numerous negative health outcomes including eating disorders and depression,” she said.

Lauren shared a couple of resources for parents looking for ways to encourage their young daughters with body positive messages. One of those resources is a book called Amanda’s Big Dream by Judith Matz which tells the story of Amanda, a girl who is hoping to get a solo in the ice skating show. Her skating coach tells her she may improve her chances if she can “lose a little weight.”

Instead of adhering to the dominant narrative of seeing the protagonist lose weight to find happiness, this book diverges from that.

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“The message given by such books is that being thin is the road to success and happiness; anyone who diverges from this path is doomed to a life of humiliation and misery. This is exactly where Amanda’s Big Dream breaks the mold. In this book, Amanda’s parents tell her that she is fine ‘just the way you are,’ and that she does not need to lose weight,” writes Lauren.

This is just one example of how to infiltrate body stigma from a young age. Neuroscience studies show that by the time a child is 4 or 5, they have already established fundamental ways of thinking, reasoning and learning, meaning if a parent or guardian can’t be bothered to teach a child important positive messages right from birth, there is a good chance by the time a girl is pre-teen, she already has ingrained self-esteem problems and low confidence about her body.

If we don’t actively fight against the harmful systems in place, by default we allow the relentless media machine to take our place.

Charli’s more than a number campaign is just one example of a trend of reversing the damage done. If every single person in the world learned that their life is not defined by any sort of number or systemic metric, imagine the impact it would have on the issue of body image.

Watch the Hatch Kids video below to get a glimpse of what Charli is doing with her newfound voice since saying “f**k you” to negative body image standards in fashion:

2 Comments

  1. …“A lot of the time society says that women and girls can’t speak out and that we’re there just to be looked at. But I think if you’re aware that you’ve got a voice just use it, and believe in yourself as well,” (Charli Howard)

    “People love you because you are easy to look at…you are skinny and pretty….that’s the reason why you are so loved…”

    No one knows just how much such things actually hurt a person. These words hurt me more than a lot of other ones ever did, and it is because it made me feel like that is all I was. Those things were said to me by people in my family for the bulk of my life. I did not like hearing it for a few reasons, but none more than the idea that here was my cousin who was and has always been very beautiful, and all I was at those times for her was not what I always was to her and she to me – the sister that I could not ever have had or wished for. She is way awesome and I love her very much. Whenever she would say these things, it made me feel like I was the person who was making things difficult for her. She struggled with her weight for a while, and our grandfather did not make it easier for her by calling her really horrible things, all based on her weight.

    This wrecked her self-image, which is something that I have studied for a long set of years – how it is that we form our self-image. The self-image is where we make all of our decisions from and the self-image is the part of our selves that we do the most for, but we don’t have to if we are more inclined to see past what everyone who was horrid to us said to us and made be their truth.

    And I have a habit of telling people, both in writings in my blogs, as well as in real life, and also in coaching sessions that no matter what, anything that other people tell us about who we are, all the way down to something as …meaningless…as the number on the tag in our clothing….that stuff can be all the truth that they want it to be, but it doesn’t mean that it has to be OUR truth. That thing called the Truth is the thing that I teach a whole lot of people about, because I never bought into the truth that the thinner a woman is, the more beautiful she is. The modeling and entertainment industries have made their ideal of what is beautiful and what is not the thing that the rest of the world wants to believe is the truth of all of us. What this means that is we need to turn off the television and we need to take a look in the mirror at ourselves and tell ourselves that “skinny and pretty” might not be that pretty to a whole lot of people. Recently, my other half told me about a friend who did not prefer women who were rail thin – he liked them, and ended up marrying a woman who is NOT thin, who was considered to be a plus-size. And really, there is nothing wrong with it.

    What this does for me is makes me know the truth that is real, and the truth that is real is that there is a preference for every body type on the planet, and that plus-sized women are not hard on the eyes of certain men (and women, too) and in fact might well be the very ones who a WHOLE LOT of men like being with. EVERYONE ON THIS PLANET IS NOT going to love a thin woman just for the fact that she is thin. That is like chalking all of our body parts as being the ones that men love the most, just because the television has told them what the producers of that show or that commercial wants the world to know is THEIR preference.

    When we see the world as the canvas that it is rather than as the place where only thin people are allowed, we will have a better view, not only of the world as it really is, but truly the way that human nature is. We are all different, given to different likes and dislikes.

    I might still be slender, but, it does not mean, for one moment, that I am everyone’s favorite body type, at all.

    Turn off the damned television, go outside and see how many couples of various sizes there are. The truth in life is life, not what some ignorant people with a little bit of power are trying to make the rest of us think is also our own truth.

    It’s not

    ALOHA from Los Angeles (Home of botox and drag queens)
    #LosAngelesKahuna
    #ReverendRoxie22
    #TheManaOBlog

  2. Pingback: Models Charli Howard & Clementine Desseaux Launch Campaign To End Body Segregation In Fashion - GirlTalkHQ

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