As Gabrielino High School students arrived at campus on April 18, they were faced with a decision: walk through a gate adorned with the word “Beautiful” or one that read “Average.”
The exercise kicked off Gabrielino’s final Mental Health Day of the year – focused on body image issues – and encouraged students to reflect on how everyone struggles with self-esteem at times.
“This time of year, with prom just a few weeks away, is always filled with students comparing themselves to one another, asking themselves if they are fit, tan or perfect enough,” Principal Sharron Heinrich said. “We thought it would be a great opportunity to call attention to these body image issues.”
Gabrielino also provided presentations – featuring mental health advocate and stylist Claudia Alvarado and Rachel McCord, an author, entrepreneur and social media influencer – that discussed the importance of self-love and how social media can distort one’s self-esteem.
Alvarado discussed her struggles with body image, including how unrealistic celebrity beauty standards contributed to her developing a life-threatening eating disorder.
Following the presentation, Gabrielino students wrote down things they did not like about themselves on pieces of paper and shredded them in the quad.
“I think it’s a cool message,” junior Maya Mendez said. “Loving yourself as a person is really important.”
Heinrich, along with students and faculty, founded the Gabrielino Wellness Committee and put forth the plan for a series of Mental Health Awareness days during the school year. Each day was dedicated to a specific topic, such as dealing with body image issues.