National Geographic : 2017 Jan
126 national geographic • january 2017 to get eating disorders so that I could help them recover. Everything about that felt wrong to me.” In early 2011 Moore had sketched out a rough workshop that included yoga, which she often used in her practice. The workshop was designed to expose body shaming, identify its roots, and help girls change their thinking. In December she led it for some of her patients as a holiday gift. The women loved the idea and ran with it. They refined the workshop and practiced it with groups of girls in Moore’s office. In May 2013 they presented it outside the office for the first time, to about 60 seventh graders at a Catholic school in Dallas. The women began by speaking briefly about how they got there. Chloe, now 24, said that when she was in seventh grade, a boy told her she had thunder thighs—the remark she credits with setting off her eating disorder. “Someone reaffirmed that I’m not normal,” she said. And yet, she told the girls, those thighs got her on the rowing team, which got her into the Univer- sity of Virginia. “My thunder thighs have been good to me. Now I wouldn’t call them ‘big,’ but ‘strong.’ ” In one exercise the participating girls formed a circle. The leaders read out statements: “I feel ugly sometimes.” “I compare myself to others.” “I would rather look different.” Girls who thought the statement applied to them stepped inside the cir- cle. The purpose was for them to see that they were not alone in having such thoughts. Chloe talked about how the media use unreal images to sell things. Then the girls broke into three groups of 20. In their group Alexandra and Estrella passed out magazines and asked the girls to tear out the first five pictures of a woman they found. “Do you see a woman of color?” they asked. “How many of these women would be considered plus sizes? Do you see any scars or acne?” In the most powerful exercise, each girl wrote down what she didn’t like about herself, one thought per sticky note. In her group, Caroline, who is now 24, stood in the middle of the circle, and the girls stuck the notes on her corresponding body part. Soon she was covered with brightly col- ored notes. Alexandra read them aloud. “Fat legs,” she read. “Frizzy hair.” “ Yellow teeth.” “ You wouldn’t say these things to a friend,” she Women have always relied on their peer group to set the rules for how they should look. For the first time in history, that pressure is coming from peers who do not even exist. Is it any wonder girls find themselves wanting? SOPHIA SHAHLAEI, 15 When you see something in a magazine, you see it as a whole picture. But when you take certain pieces out, you realize, oh, that’s Photoshop. It’s obviously not real when you put that next to someone’s body that hasn’t been tampered with.