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Love Your Tree

By Emma Shakarshy-“Being a girl, you grow up with all of these body image expectations put on you.” Amelia Robinson’s response? Make art about it. 

Amelia is this year’s winner of The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt’s Love Your Tree campaign, a creative arts campaign led by art therapist Julia Andersen.  The campaign started in 2007 and Amelia’s is the ninth poster to be selected for reproduction. Winning was no small feat. This year’s contest had 365 entries. 

“To be able to share something that would help other girls was really exciting,” says Amelia, a junior at Patterson Mill High School. Amelia has always loved art and especially loves to draw people. “Especially now since I’m older, I’ve been doing figure drawing of all different bodies,” says Amelia. To create her winning poster, Amelia drew upon her experience figure drawing with diverse bodies. 

                                         

Her poster depicts three trees of different shapes and sizes with three naked  diverse bodies to match each tree.  Her message is that every body should be accepted, no matter what you look like and she hopes to begin to erase preconceived ideas people have about the “perfect body”.  Just as we appreciate all different types of trees, Amelia would love her piece to give a new appreciation for the human body in all their shapes and forms.

This campaign was born out of senior art therapist Julia Andersen’s idea nine years ago, which was encouraged and generously supported by The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt and the Sheppard & Enoch Pratt Foundation. Since the idea’s inception, Julia has facilitated close to 100 workshops all over Maryland for thousands of students from 6th grade through college.

“Young people are very affected by media and interested in making change, but they don’t feel like they have the ability to change it,” says Andersen. Andersen uses fashion advertisements to illustrate media literacy and design concepts around visual imagery and metaphor. Then she asks the question, “What would it be like if we looked at ourselves as natural beings? Like trees that grow and change according to the weather, their environment, and their genetic characteristics?”

  

Students study famous posters such as Rosie the Riveter’s “You Can Do It” poster and discuss how that poster effected social change and they have the chance to use their Love Your Tree Poster to make change, as well. “They realize they don’t need to use language, but that the universality of tree imagery communicates very simply the positive image message,” Andersen says.

The workshops also allow students the opportunity to share their design with friends and family, opening the doors in a nonverbal way to speak about their own self-esteem and body image.  The goal is to reach young people through the power of art and create a bridge between mental health and art expression.

   

At the end of the campaign, there is an exhibit with all of the submissions hung on the walls. Just imagine. 365 trees, one for every day of the year, one for every young person’s message and perspective.

                           

“My family was really proud and they came to the ceremony,” says Amelia, “but I was really just happy to get the message out.” 

If you're interested in seeing more incredible student art, check out the Love Your Tree Pinterest board and online Facebook galleries. You can also check out photos from the event receptions! 

For more teen arts activism, check out: 

Meet the Artist: Mikhaila Nodel

Meet the Artist: Vanessa Papastavros

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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