Summer Camp Bans ‘Body Talk’ & Boosts Teens’ Self Esteem

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From new haircuts to cool sneakers, teens are quick to compliment aspects of each other’s appearance. On the flip side, the same can be said about negative traits — frizzy hair, greasy skin, out-of-style clothes. But that dialogue usually comes in the form of whispers or snarky remarks. With so much focus on outward appearance, a summer camp decided to make a bold — and brilliant — move: banning body talk.

Eden Village Camp is a Jewish camp on an organic farm in New York. According to the New York Times, campers are not allowed to comment on anyone’s appearance or clothing, even if the comment is positive. The goal is to show that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

This rule helps campers become more comfortable with themselves. Whether wearing super hero capes or ninja outfits, it allows them to experiment with their looks without worrying what others think.

Fourteen-year-old Rachel Steinig told The Times, “People really like me for who I am and not what I look like, and people actually pay attention to the sort of person that I am. Your dress isn’t really you, it’s just something you bought. But whether you are a good friend, that’s truly you.”

Banning body talk is definitely a message we can get behind. In fact, it’s a major topic in the upcoming September issue of Choices! Keep an eye out for our article about “Body Bullying” this fall, which also includes body-positive social movements your teens can join!

Here’s a challenge: Next time you’re about to mention something about someone’s appearance, stop yourself and change the direction of the conversation. What you say has more of an impact on your teens than you’d think! Tell us about your experience in the comments below—and tell us what you chose to focus on instead.


Did you know there’s a health and well-being magazine for teens? Click here to learn more and find out how to subscribe!

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One Response to Summer Camp Bans ‘Body Talk’ & Boosts Teens’ Self Esteem

  1. Vivian Stadlin June 24, 2014 at 4:12 am #

    Thanks, friends! I’m one of the Eden Village Camp directors. f you’re interested in this topic, please check out our Body Talk FAQ, as it adds important nuance to the press coverage: edenvillagecamp.org/bodytalk

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