Why women everywhere are embracing #WhatMakesMeBeautiful


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National Eating Disorders Awareness Week's adjacent tag takes a life of its own.

What makes you beautiful? Is it your flawless skin? Your perfect hair? Your straight teeth? Your full lips?

Project Heal, a nonprofit that promotes healthy body images and funds eating-disorder treatments for people who can't afford them, suspects that it's none of the above. Its new social media campaign, #WhatMakesMeBeautiful, features women of all body types and highlights the parts of themselves that truly make them feel beautiful.

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#WhatMakesMeBeautiful launched last weekend, coinciding with the start of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder during their lifetime. "Clinically significant eating disorders" include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other specified feeding or eating disorders. The purpose of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to educate the public about this epidemic and encourage at-risk individuals to undergo screenings.

Despite the campaign's timing, however, Project Heal is not targeting #WhatMakesMeBeautiful solely at survivors of eating disorders. Kristina Saffran, Project Heal's co-founder, told the Daily Dot that the focus of the campaign is much broader than it may initially appear.

"These problems exist on a spectrum," said Saffran. "Even though a lot of people might not have a diagnosable eating disorder, feeling bad about your body is, unfortunately, the norm. So we wanted to be sure to create an inclusive campaign."

To launch #WhatMakesMeBeautiful, Project Heal collaborated with photographer Arthur Belebeau on a photo shoot, featuring women of a variety of body types and backgrounds. 

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Each woman was asked to provide a brief statement, sharing what makes her beautiful. 

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The most powerful outcome, according to Saffran? "Not one person mentioned anything physical." 
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Instead, the women focused their comments on inner beauty, highlighting their confidence, happiness, passions, and kindness.
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Since launching #WhatMakesMeBeautiful, Project Heal has encouraged others to share their own photos and messages using the hashtag. As new photos have filled Facebook and Instagram in recent days, the message has been clear: Inner beauty means much more than one's exterior physical appearance.

#whatmakesmebeautiful "my ability to stay true to myself no matter what the world may want" #projecthealOSU

A post shared by Project HEAL Ohio State (@projecthealosu) on

Although National Eating Disorder Awareness Week will come to an end on Saturday, there are no plans for #WhatMakesMeBeautiful to end so soon. Saffran told the Daily Dot that she hopes the campaign will continue for at least a couple more months, so that Project Heal can continue to engage young women in conversations about redefining beauty.

"The real point of the campaign is to inspire people," she continued. "Physical beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but what makes you what makes you most beautiful is on the inside."

Photo via Arthur Belebeau/Facebook
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