HOSA Students work to spread body positivity

Sophia Kalakailo, Editor

Their message is simple: ”love all bodies.” Largely concerned with body positivity, sophomores Jenna Salhab, Dhakshniy Sivakumaran, and Tanisha Deshmukh ambitiously organized numerous events around the community, impacting, by their count, a total of 13,708 people.

Salhab, Sivakumaran, and Deshmukh are members of Health Occupations of America (HOSA), As members of HOSA, these students were required to choose a project related to health. Taking on a community awareness project, they tasked themselves with spreading body positivity to help prevent mental illnesses and eating disorders related to body negativity.

“Right now, especially at this age, kids compare themselves to social media,” Deshmukh said, explaining the importance of body positivity today.

Through their bake sale and body positive wristband sale, the group raised $279 for the Butterfly Foundation, an online foundation fighting eating disorders and negative body image.

Tanish Deshmukh, Dhakshniy Sivakumaran, Jenna Salhab, Natalie Kasmikha and Emoni Stamper working their bake sale

Body positive projects and events began this past October. The three visited a local elementary school in hopes a younger generation would carry on their body positive message. Additionally the trio distributed brochures and affirmation cards around local stores and, additionally, began the Sticky Note Project.

Sophia Kalakailo
The glass hallway at FHS was decorated with sticky notes with body positive messages.

The Sticky Note Project involved writing uplifting phrases on sticky-notes and placing them in prominent locations for students to see. Some students photographed the notes for body positive social media posts. Then, on National Body Positivity Day, the three students encouraged FHS students to wear tie dye in support of body positivity.

The week of March 11 was a school-wide Body Positivity Week. All students had a chance to participate in the Sticky Note Challenge, a dialogue session, and a bake sale benefitting the National Eating Disorder Association. Additionally, they partnered with You Affirm Self to create a short film, which appeared on the video announcements on Thursday. You can find the short film here.

The three continue advocating now. They explained the value of consistency in their work.

“It’ll help people to remind themselves they’re beautiful,” said Salhab, “It’s not enough to remember one day and not the next.”

Besides the overall body negativity present today in general, the three body-positive advocates have personal experience with these issues.

“I was faced with body negativity since the eighth grade and so did the people around me,” Sivakumaran recollected.

Salhab identified her own personal connection with body positivity.

“Personally, I think it was my experience with sports and cross country and worrying about what I should eat,” Salhab explained.

Deshmukh explained the connection between health and body positivity.

“People get confused about body positivity and being healthy.” Deshmukh said. She added that she believes there is a misconception about body positivity, that it encourages those who may be unhealthy to disregard their health. Although, Deshmukh believes that is not the case.

“It just means you don’t need to starve yourself or overeat to love your body.” said Deshmukh. “If you love your body you want to treat it right.”

The trio continues to spread their message around the community. They hope one day everyone may be body positive.

“We want to work on changing the perception of beauty itself in our community.” added Salhab. “And not having one specific idea of beauty.”

To hear more from Salhab, Sivakumaran and Deshmukh, follow their instagram @love.all.bodies