Seventh grade students Avery Burn and Genae Vanek decided to take action against the low self-esteem haunting their peers.
The girls watched as friends stared in the mirrors at school, saying “Oh my gosh, I’m really fat,” “My nose is way too big,” or “I hate the way I look.”
Burn and Vanek also felt affected by negative self-esteem as body-shaming comments and peer pressure flooded daily middle school life.
“My friend Avery and I got really sad about this,” Vanek told ABC News. “So we did this project because girls should feel they’re wonderful, and we wanted to help them create a positive self-esteem.”
They distributed the mirrors to other female students at Rock Creek Middle School, and were astonished at the overwhelmingly positive response.
“We came up with this idea because we saw other girls in our school with this problem with body image and what other people think of them,” Avery told TODAY.com. “We thought if we did a project that involves people our age, it would help us and help them.”
The mirrors not only provoked smiles and general positive cheer — both Vanek and Burn noticed major changes in their female classmates.
“People are making more friends and talking to each other more, that surprised me,” Burn said.
“It’s definitely made a big difference,” Vanek said. “I definitely see more smiles on their faces. I see them complimenting themselves. That was a positive thing to see.”
“In middle school, self-esteem is a huge issue for many girls especially with issues like cyber bullying and bullying in general,” Rock Creek Assistant Principal Gregory Harris told ABC News. “Having two girls trying to combat these big problems on their own is pretty amazing and incredible.”
Burn and Vanek hope to unite other schools in a national Love My Reflection campaign. Already, Portland-area schools have asked the girls to come distribute mirrors and share positive messages.
To fund the growing project, the Love My Reflection team started a GoFundMe campaign to garner supplies and sponsors for additional mirrors, markers, paint, shirts, and supplies for community awareness events.
“Our mission is to help develop positive self-esteem and body images in middle school girls by engaging in peer to peer interaction and giving out mirrors with encouraging statements written on them,” the GoFundMe page reads. “Our hope is that girls will be accepted for who they are and feel good about themselves from receiving uplifting words from other girls.”
“This project helped boost my confidence to see that I can make a difference,” Vanek said. “It makes me feel better about myself.”
For more information, the project team can be contacted through their website.