By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) students Kate Kalinowski and Kira Porter met in their business research class. As part of the course curriculum, the duo paired up to create a project for the annual DECA competition. DECA is an international association of high school students, college students and teachers with the goal of preparing leaders and entrepreneurs for careers and education in marketing, finance, hospitality, management and other business areas.
Kalinowski and Porter will compete in the Public Relations category of DECA. Instead of choosing a campaign which works with widely known causes such as the American Heart Association, the girls chose to take a risk and choose a topic that is not often discussed – body image.
Body image has always been a struggle for Kalinowski who remembers being embarrassed to wear bikinis on field trips to the beach, always wishing that she was thinner or prettier.
“Although I still struggle with seeing myself as beautiful, I have come to the realization that I am not alone,” she explained. “I want my peers who are facing similar issues to know that they are not alone and that they are more than a reflection in a mirror.
“I think that when we look in the mirror we should see our achievements, characteristics and all the great things we have to offer because the key to confidence and positive body image is seeing and believing that we are more than just a body.”
In a society plagued by images of Photoshopped models, athletes on steroids, and unrealistic body standards, how can one find self confidence in the reflection he or she sees in the mirror?
“Although people have begun talking about sensitive subjects, such as mental illness and race, allowing many topics to become less taboo, the issue of body image seems to take up far too little of our conversations,” Kalinowski said. “I know that we can make a difference and hopefully start a chain reaction, so that the issue is not so taboo.”
Kalinowski and Porter are calling their campaign – which will take place at ARHS during the second and third weeks of January – “Reflection Redefined.” Through the creation of mock magazine covers, the scheduling of guest speakers, and the distribution of pertinent literature, the girls aim to inform fellow students and faculty about the importance of a positive body image.
In addition to offering information, the campaign will focus on redefining the way society looks at body image. It is the girls’ goal to show students and faculty a new perspective, ultimately showing that anyone can be “body positive.”
On the final day of the campaign, Kalinowski and Porter will line a section of hallway with mirrors. Next to the mirrors will be whiteboards where students and faculty will be encouraged to post comments about what they see in the mirror. It is their hope that positive words flood the boards.
While the majority of the campaign will be open solely to those within the school building, there will be an art show featuring work by students and alumni as well as photographs from the Grace Project by photographer Charise Isis which will be open to the public. The exhibit features portraits of women who have had mastectomies to survive breast cancer. The art show opening will take place Thursday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m. in the Algonquin Art Gallery (room C211). All are welcome.
“We hope that by the end of the campaign our peers are able to view themselves and others as more than just their physical appearances,” said Kalinowski. “Every person has positive attributes and we want them to weigh those just as heavily as their physical appearance.”