Body Love Squad boosting self-esteem of teenage girls
Being a teenage girl is tough. Anyone who has been through it, knows it – and Kymberley Sant’s own experiences of being bullied and having low self-esteem led her to forming the Body Love Squad 5 years ago.
Kymberley’s Body Love Squad invites girls from 8 to 16 to meet weekly at Flagstone to talk, connect and exercise in a safe, supportive, positive environment. The Squad is also part of Logan City Council’s Active and Healthy program.
‘Given my experience of growing up not liking my own body and being bullied, I wanted to provide a space for girls to train, to be around nice people and make friends in a positive environment,’ she says.
‘I try to talk about my own experiences and instill some tips to help girls deal with any negativity and feel good about themselves.’
Kymberley, who lives at Park Ridge, believes social media has a massive impact on how girls see themselves, particularly the highly edited images on Instagram.
‘I think there are a lot of influencers out there who show these highly edited images of their bodies and they really shape the minds of young girls, so we talk a lot about following body positive accounts and being realistic about what different bodies look like and appreciating our bodies,’ she says.
‘The discussions we have at the start of each session are designed to play a part in getting them to love their body. We do poems and self-affirmations and things like that.
‘I’ve also asked the girls to nominate what they think their best attribute is, and while some girls struggled to think of something they liked about themselves and that is heartbreaking, the other girls jump in with all of the things they love about that person. The girls’ faces just light up and it’s lovely to see. For the girls to see themselves from the perspective of others who appreciate them is really special.’
Kymberley says some girls in the group are extremely confident already and enjoy the social and physical aspects of the sessions.
‘After our ice breakers and discussions, we spend the second half doing exercises in a circuit, and we’ll talk about which muscles are we using and how different exercises work while they are doing them – they enjoy working up a sweat and using up their energy,’ she says.
“I enjoy seeing Kym and the other girl, and learning how to look after myself, what to do if you are getting bullied and caring about yourself. ”— Participant Hailey Falconer
The group also meets up for pizza parties or other celebrations during school holidays.
Kymberley has been a personal trainer for 7 years – a ‘side hustle’ passion project she is passionate about and does in addition to her full-time office job as a high school industry liaison officer.
‘I discovered the gym after I left high school having been really overweight and feeling bad about my body – exercise made me feel good about myself and I soon wanted to help other people get to that place too,’ she says.
‘I got the qualifications I needed and started training women only, and now I have a real love for helping young people as well.
‘I absolutely love it and the goal is to do this full time with other groups of young people: training girls and women in a friendly and non-judgmental environment.
‘It is such a privilege to see the girls grow, and how girls who I have worked with since they were very young now becoming young women. You see the change in the way they hold themselves.’
Find out more about Logan City Council’s Active and Healthy program here.
By Sharon Worboys