“Like a tree, my body is truly incredible.” – One Student’s Experience with the Love Your Tree Campaign

Love Your Tree (LYT) is a creative arts campaign designed to help students develop positive body image, improved self-esteem and enhanced media literacy skills, all of which can serve as protective factors against the development of eating disorders. Inspired by the work of author and playwright, Eve Ensler, this campaign empowers students of all ages to use art and creativity to challenge harmful appearance ideals and narrow definitions of beauty.

With the 13th annual campaign now behind us, we sat down with Kate Helminiak, a sophomore at Notre Dame Prepatory School to talk about her involvement in LYT and the inspiring poster she created. Her artwork was selected by a panel of health and mental health professionals to be the official poster of the 2019 campaign.

While the Notre Dame Prepatory School art department and school community has been participating in the LYT Campaign for the past 13 years, this was Kate’s first year taking part. Her initial interest began after she attended in a LYT workshop at her school presented by Brianna Garrold, art therapist and LYT facilitator. Kate said that an image of a friend who had struggled with an eating disorder was in her mind during the workshop. After the class viewed examples of LYT student artwork, she remembered her friend’s struggles and how she had worked hard to recover. Kate said this memory, “inspired me to do more” and so, she set out to design a poster based on her friend’s “mindset while she was going through her eating disorder and how she got through it.

The poster Kate ultimately submitted to the campaign depicted the beauty of what the body and mind can do while incorporating the LYT metaphor of the body as a tree. In the poster, which she made using colored pencils, a young girl is sitting down with legs crossed and her hair growing upward and outward like branches towards the sky. She has a reflective quality about her, almost as though she is meditating with the faintest of smiles that seems to convey peace with oneself. During our interview, Kate described the branches as that of a willow tree. To her, the willow tree itself represents how vast and complex our minds can be. In further describing her poster she explained that “none of the branches are the same,” and that “the vines that come down help to shelter our minds.

Everyone who participates in the LYT campaign is encouraged to submit an artist statement with their work. Kate, chose the phrase Like a tree, my body is truly incredible. When asked why she chose this phrase, she stated that the word incredible was a step up from other words she thought about to describe what our bodies can do each day. She wanted to emphasize how amazing and complex a body can be. Kate also explained how the LYT campaign helped her see how negative body image can affect so many students her age. She says, “It opened my eyes to see how long and far eating disorders and mental disorders stretch and how many people are impacted.” She also highlighted how fortunate she and her classmates were to have the opportunity to talk openly about mental health and how helpful it can be to use art to communicate about complex topics like body image.

At the end of each year’s LYT campaign, a special reception is held where students, teachers and families get to see all of the students’ artwork on display. The community exhibit celebrates the diversity of beauty and empowers viewers to embrace and appreciate all bodies while rejecting damaging media messages. When asked about the exhibit Kate stated that her favorite part was seeing and talking to the different students who participated. She said she loved seeing the connection between each student and their art. “It was really interesting to see which student did which poster and how their poster connected to the message they wrote.” This was a common sentiment from the crowd of over 200 who also attended that day.

As our discussion came to a close, Kate expressed gratitude that her poster was selected among more than 300 posters to receive the top award in 2019. She hopes to have more opportunities to advocate for positive body image among her fellow teens in the years ahead.

To learn more about the Love Your Tree campaign and how your school can participate in the 2019-2020 campaign, visit loveyourtree.org or email bgarrold@sheppardpratt.org for more information.


Written by Julie Seechuk, BSW
Social Work & Community Outreach Intern
Julie is currently pursuing her Masters in Social Work at Salisbury University online with an intent to graduate May of 2020.  Julie received her Bachelor’s Degree from Salisbury University in 2015 with a double major in Psychology and Social Work. In addition to pursuing her Masters and interning at The Center for Eating Disorders, Julie also works part-time as a Community Relations Coordinator for a Pediatric Oncology Nonprofit called The Cool Kids Campaign located in Towson, Maryland. During the 2018-2019 school year Julie assisted with resource development, event coordination, social media and website maintenance, community outreach to schools, and The Center’s free weekly support group.

 

Integrating Art & Body Image in the 8th Annual Love Your Tree Campaign

The President’s Committee on Arts & Humanities released a report in 2011 entitled Reinvesting in Arts Education. The report included a long list of evidence to support the benefits of integrating art throughout various disciplines in schools by “teaching ‘through’ and ‘with’ the arts”.  These benefits included fewer discipline problems, increased graduation rates, and improved test scores.  Even more interesting, using artistic mediums to teach, led to more interest in the subject matter, increased motivation to learn the topic at hand, and even the “advantage of embedding knowledge in long-term memory”.  Simply put, art not only makes things more fun and enjoyable to learn, it helps the brain to convert information in deeper, more meaningful ways that we remember longer.

While the President’s report encourages schools to use these benefits to improve learning in subject areas such as science, math and language arts, there are great  implications for learning other things – like positive body image and media literacy.  These are the goals of The Center for Eating Disorders’ Love Your Tree Campaign.  Now in its 8th year, Love Your Tree is arts-based campaign open to middle school, high school and college-aged youth, many of whom subscribe very strongly to our culture’s “thin ideal”.

“Thin-ideal internalization refers to the extent to which an individual cognitively “buys into” socially defined ideals of attractiveness and engages in behaviors designed to produce an approximation of these ideals.” (source)

Love Your Tree utilizes the creative poster-making process, media literacy skills and cognitive dissonance theory to help students internalize new ideals that support body diversity and self-acceptance.  Based on the President’s Report, using art as the educational tool helps to convey this knowledge in an effective, enjoyable way.  It also means that positive changes in body image that take place throughout participation in the campaign are more likely to be long-lasting.  Why is this important?  A positive body image is associated with higher levels of self-esteem overall and can serve as a protective factor against the development of eating disorders.

The 8th Annual Love Your Tree (LYT) campaign launches officially on July 12th.  Visit the LYT website to find out how your school or community organization can get involved and schedule a Love Your Tree workshop.

Questions?  Call (410) 427-3886

*Love Your Tree posters from past years will be on display in a traveling exhibit on August 25th through September 2nd, 2013 at The Shops at Kenilworth in Towson, MD.  We invite you to stop by to view the artwork and get more information about the campaign.

 

 

 

 

LOVE YOUR TREE: A Special Community Exhibit of Student Artwork ~ August 2012

 

 

 

 

  

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“LOVE YOUR TREE”  ~ Community Art Exhibit 

August 9-12th, 2012 

Thurs, Fri, Sat: 10am-9pm / Sunday: 10am-5pm 

The Shops at Kenilworth in Towson, MD 

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Join us by the fountain at The Shops at Kenilworth for a unique look at six years of student artwork celebrating positive body image, the diversity of beauty, and self-acceptance.   This open exhibit is a kick-off for the Center for Eating Disorders’ 7th annual Love Your Tree campaign  which is currently accepting new artwork submissions from middle school, high school and college students.  Be sure to browse the exhibit, be a part of body positivity…and get a some shopping done while you’re at it!    

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To find out more about Love Your Tree, or to set-up a free art workshop for your school or youth organization, visit us during the exhibit at The Shops at Kenilworth or email the Love Your Tree program coordinator at kclemmer@sheppardpratt.org.

   You can also visit our website at www.eatingdisorder.org.  

  

The 7th annual Love Your Tree campaign ~ Promoting positive body image and self-acceptance through art

“Like a tree, my body is ENDURING.”

2012 Artwork by Meghan Cain, Notre Dame Preparatory School

WHAT is Love Your Tree?

Love Your Tree is an arts-based body image campaign based on the work of author and activist, Eve Ensler.  Ensler’s award winning play, The Good Body sends a message to stop hating our bodies and encourages us all to challenge society’s narrow definition of beauty. The Love Your Tree program was created seven years ago as a creative avenue for this important message to reach young people in schools and organizations throughout our state and beyond. Middle school, high school and college students from across Maryland are invited to create and submit original posters that illustrate their positive response to the phrase, “Like a tree, my body is…”. This campaign provides students with an opportunity to use art as an avenue for learning about and expressing messages of self-acceptance and appreciation for body diversity.  Center for Eating Disorders staff are available to provide free, on-site Love Your Tree workshops for schools and youth organizations wanting to take part in the campaign.

WHEN:

Love Your Tree workshops are offered to schools, clubs, and youth organizations August through December of 2012.  Call (410) 427-3886 or email kclemmer@sheppardpratt.org to schedule.  Poster entries must be submitted by December 14th, 2012.

August 9-12, 2012 : Join us for a community Love Your Tree exhibit to highlight the campaign at The Shops at Kenilworth in Towson, Maryland…read more here.

WHO:

Middle School, High School and College-age students throughout Maryland can participate.  One poster per person.  Educators, counselors, youth leaders and parents are encouraged to help facilitate participation in the campaign.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED:

Schedule a workshop and/or download the following documents for details on how to submit a poster:

  • 2012 Call-for-Posters (pdf)
  • Student Artwork Registration Form (pdf) – must be handed in with artwork
  • All artwork MUST reflect original student ideas and designs.
  • Poster entries must be no smaller than 9″x12″ and no larger than 12″x18″.  Only two- dimensional media will be accepted. Please be sure your name is on the registration for and the artwork itself.
  • For more information, contact the CED Outreach Department at (410) 427-3886 or email kclemmer@sheppardpratt.org.

MORE INFO:

The campaign will culminate in February 2013 with a special recognition ceremony and a public exhibit of student artwork.  Students will receive awards for their artwork and one poster will be chosen for professional reproduction and promotion of the Love Your Tree message.  You can check out photos of past exhibits and receptions  on our Facebook page.

The campaign’s central theme, Love Your Body, Love Your Tree encourages self-awareness, media literacy, health and well-being, advocacy and an appreciation for the diversity of beauty.

The 6th annual “Love Your Tree” Poster Campaign

Love Your Tree

Merging positive body image & creative arts in schools and on campuses across Maryland

July 15 – December 16, 2011

WHAT is Love Your Tree?

Love Your Tree is an arts-based body image campaign based on the work of author and activist, Eve Ensler.  Ensler’s award winning play, The Good Body sends a message to stop hating our bodies and encourages us all to challenge society’s narrow definition of beauty. The Love Your Tree program was created six years ago as a creative avenue for this important message to reach young people in schools and organizations throughout our state and beyond. Middle school, high school and college students from across Maryland are invited to create and submit original posters that illustrate their positive response to the phrase, “Like a tree, my body is…”. This campaign provides students with an opportunity to use art as an avenue for learning about and expressing messages of self-acceptance and appreciation for body diversity.  Center for Eating Disorders staff are available to provide free, on-site Love Your Tree workshops for schools and youth organizations wanting to take part in the campaign.

WHEN:

Love Your Tree workshops are offered August through December of 2011.  Call (410) 427-3886 or email kclemmer@sheppardpratt.org to schedule.  Poster entries must be submitted by December 16th, 2011.

WHO:

Middle School, High School and College-age students throughout Maryland can participate in groups, classes, organizations, or as individuals.  One poster per person.  Educators, counselors, youth leaders and parents are encouraged to help facilitate participation in the campaign.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED:

Schedule a workshop and/or download the following documents for details on how to submit a poster:

  • 2011 Call-for-Posters (pdf)
  • Student Artwork Registration Form (pdf)
  • All artwork MUST reflect original student ideas and designs.
  • Poster entries must be no smaller than 9″x12″ and no larger than 12″x18″.  Only two- dimensional media will be accepted.
  • For more information, contact the CED Outreach Department at (410) 427-3886 or email kclemmer@sheppardpratt.org.

MORE INFO:

The campaign will culminate in February 2012 with a special recognition ceremony and a public exhibit of student artwork.  Students will receive awards for their artwork and one poster will be chosen for professional reproduction and promotion of the Love Your Tree message.  You can check out photos of the 2010 poster exhibit and reception here on our Facebook page.

The campaign’s central theme, Love Your Body, Love Your Tree encourages self-awareness, media literacy, health and well-being, advocacy and an appreciation for the diversity of beauty.