Interviewing Rebecca O’Reilly and Ruth Flegmann of Yr 13 about their Body Confidence Campaign that they started at the beginning of the year. – Louie Judd Yr 12

Firstly, can I thank you for taking the time with this interview on behalf of me and the Write On Team. Firstly, what inspired you to start the campaign of Body Confidence? And did you have any personal reasons to start the campaign?

(Rebecca) Originally, I had a plan to start a campaign revolved around body confidence, and promoting self love and self confidence in the school, as from past experience, I have known what it’s like to feel self conscious and unhappy in my own skin. Before the campaign idea came about, I was helping my sisters become confident and happy in their own skins, and then I thought that, not only do I not want them, but I don’t want any of the girls in the younger years, to go through what I had too in order to reach this point where I am finally accepting my body – I wanted to start the girls’ journey’s now, and know that they’re not alone. I knew this was going to take a lot of work, so I decided to ask Ruth – someone who I knew was extremely passionate about body confidence and loving yourself in your own skin. She was the first person I thought of instantly when I decided to take someone on board with me, as I knew together, we would SLAY this campaign.

(Ruth) Yeah, I joined the campaign because Rebecca asked me to but I was already so passionate about this issue that I was so honoured when she asked me. I’ve always struggled with body image from primary school- I’ve always been bigger than most of my friends and it makes me so sad to think back on how much time I wasted hating my appearance. Hopefully this campaign will help some girls to not have to deal with those rubbish feelings as well.

What’s the kind of responses you’re getting back from students in the school?

(Ruth) The response has been way bigger than I’d imagined- I honestly thought we wouldn’t have much reactions from the assembly. Loads of people have passed me in the corridors and said how good it was and the survey we sent out got a huge response. I guess it just shows that everyone who deals with these issues wants to feel like they are heard.

(Rebecca) Yeah, as Ruth said, we did not plan for such a huge response – girls were emailing us, we were receiving messages to do another assembly, and we couldn’t walk down the corridors without hearing ‘Body Confidence assembly’. It was great! Still now, we are still receiving such a positive response, which is far more than Ruth and I expected or could have asked for. We are so proud of the girls who have reached out to us and shared their thoughts and ideas with us about the campaign, and we are also so proud of the response we received, as we hope this shows that no one is alone in this journey – it takes time, but with the help of friends around you to support you, it makes it far easier to get through 

Is there a particular year group that have responded particularly well to the campaign?

(Ruth) Not really- obviously I’ve talked mostly to people in my year about it. All our friends are very supportive obviously but to be honest, I talk about it so much they’re probably sick of it by now lol

Is there a year group that didn’t react so well?

(Ruth) You know, people haven’t been negative, at least not to our faces. Obviously, you’re always gonna have some haters but that’s life.

(Rebecca) Yeah, it’s expected that we’re going to have some negative responses from the campaign, as not everyone may agree with what Ruth and I are promoting, but I think that, if anything, we have created positivity around the topic of body confidence – at first, it was definitely nerve wracking because we were standing up and promoting our bodies to the girls, and the entire school, who may not have accepted them before now, but the response was so incredible and supportive that if there are people who disagree or don’t support the campaign, it’s not going to impact Ruth and me greatly.

Are you planning on doing anything else in the next few months with the Body Confidence campaign?

(Ruth) Yeah, we will finally be putting up our paper chains. We also have a Body Confidence Club planned that we are really excited about; the main aim is to create a positive, safe and fun atmosphere for girls who feel less confident, or girls who are body confident and want to share tips on how they reached the stage of body confidence. We are also planning to introduce a ‘clinic’, which will be more personal, where girls can voice their personal issues and we can help them.

Are you planning on making a committee or club for the Body Confidence Campaign? And would you consider passing this on to another person in the school?

(Ruth) Yeah, as we said, we are planning on creating a club which can hopefully carry on after we leave. If we could, I would love to create a body confidence committee to carry on some of these things after we’ve left- perhaps people in L6. The thing is this issue is very important to Rebecca and I- it would be important that whoever takes over is as committed as we are but if there’s any girls willing to carry on, we would love that!

(Rebecca) Yes, we want the positive association that comes with Body Confidence to carry on and to do this, we need girls who are passionate and ready to commit to something like the campaign, as it requires a lot of work, but also a lot of dedication and passion!!

Did you think the reaction would be what it is? Did you expect a better reaction? Or worse?

(Ruth) Honestly we got a much bigger and better reaction than we thought. Considering we’ve only done one week of activities so far, the response has been amazing. But for me, the response that I personally get is not important- the important part is how seriously people take this message for themselves. I hope that every girl in BGS will respond to our assembly by looking in the mirror and loving what they see, seeing the truth behind the distorted portrayal of beauty in the media and telling themselves they are way more valuable than what they look like.

(Rebecca) Yeah, the response was absolutely incredible and completely unexpected, but as Ruth said, the response we received was not the aim – our aim was to reach out to the girls, even if it was only one, and help change their view of themselves into something far more positive and accepting.

How did you come up with the idea of the Spotify playlist? And how has the reaction been to it?

(Ruth) Well, Rebecca and I obviously love to dance. If you’ve been in the common room at break time, you might have even had to suffer seeing Rebecca lip-sync to the songs in there. So, when we were thinking of small ways we could help people increase their confidence, a playlist was obvious.

(Rebecca) Ruth, excuse me, you sing just as much as me… But yeah, music is something that connects so many people – it’s probably one of the only aspects in life everyone can relate too. Music, to me, makes me feel happy and safe and comfortable, and so the idea of the playlist came to me when Ruth and I were thinking of ways to make girls feel happy and good about themselves. And Lizzo is definitely someone that makes me feel good, and I wanted to share her, and the rest of my feel good songs, with everyone else!! I would also just like to announce that we have 245 FOLLOWERS!!! Thank you to everyone who supports the playlist and enjoys it, just as much as Ruth and me did when making it!!

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