That was the message Free Being Me ambassador Emer Foley delivered to hundreds of teenagers at the recent Zeminar Youth Expo in the RDS.
“Sometimes we miss the beauty that is in our bodies and inside us, and the things that we can do, because we are so worried about our bodies and the exterior,” Emer said.
“We have all wanted to be certain things in our future and I think sometimes we are the only ones that hold us back from accomplishing those things because of poor self-esteem and ideas that we are not good enough, that we do not look the right way.”
Emer, who is a basketball coach and plus-size model who played basketball for Ireland in her youth, said there was a lot of change necessary in the media. “We are tired of seeing people that are not real,” she said before showing a video that demonstrates how photos of models are airbrushed and digitally altered.
“Why can’t we just be happy with the way we look? We really should just be happy with the way we look. You need to be free to be who you are. Be Free Being Me.”
Growing up in Ireland half-Irish, half-Nigerian, Emer wishes there had been a body confidence programme like Free Being Me when she attended Brownies and Guides in Bray, Co Wicklow. She whole-heartedly supports the programme and would like to see Free Being Me rolled out to youth groups and schools throughout Ireland, believing it can boost the confidence of a whole generation of young people.
A video of Emer Foley’s talk at Zeminar may be viewed here.