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Contest winners address struggle of being ‘Be-You-tiful’ in social media age


Winning entries by local middle school students in this year’s Be-You-tiful contest, sponsored by the Campbell-based Eating Disorders Resource Center (EDRC), use different mediums to express similar ideas about how social media affects body image and overall well being.

The annual contest is open to Bay Area middle and high school students.

Emma Xuanyi Ma, a seventh-grader at Kennedy Middle School in Cupertino, won first place in the middle school prose category for “A Fresh Start.” Her poem addresses the stressors teens face in the age of the selfie: “It takes you thirty shots,/Before you get it right,/You’ve made your skin smooth/And your eyes bright;/But you’re not satisfied,/Perfection seems so far,/How come you never have/The beauty of those stars?”

Nandika Trivedi, an eighth-grader at Thomas Russell Middle School in Milpitas, used self-portraiture to convey her inner child “that just wants to get out there and roam, no matter what others think about her weight or clothes.”

“When I look at the flawless actors and actresses on screen, I get filled with an overwhelming jealousy over the fact that they were thin and I am not,” Nandika writes in her artist’s statement about the portrait, which took second place in the middle school art category. “I hope that it can still change, that I can go back to loving myself as I am. But it’s been so long that sometimes I wonder, will I ever be free again? That loving freedom is what I try to capture in my portrait.”

According to the EDRC, As many as 30% of girls and 16% of boys in American high schools suffer from disordered eating. While maintaining a positive self-image can be challenging in the face of peers’ judgments and comments—especially now that social media shares them with a wider audience—both students’ entries embrace the effort as central to physical and mental health.

“You’re worth so much more,/Than the views that you gain,/Don’t let the comments/Shackle you in chains,” Emma writes in her winning poem.

Nandika says she tried to capture that self-assurance in her portrait, with “my head high in the air, above the horrid people who judge without knowing and the ones who judge even after knowing. It’s hard to ignore it all and rise above, but I hope that one day I can.”

First-, second- and third-place winners in the Be-You-tiful contest’s  various categories won $300, $200 and $100, respectively.


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