Project: Body Evolution

Hi! My name is Eleanor Byars and I am currently a senior at Ashley Hall School in Charleston, SC, working with the UNC Eating Disorders Program on my independent senior project, Project: Body Revolution. The aims of my project are to have a better understanding into how the media affect body image in young girls and to use this knowledge to help my peers become more savvy consumers of media.

I have attended an all girls’ school for most of my life and have seen directly the body image struggles that my peers face. As a result, the body image and self-esteem issues facing young girls today are extremely important to me. Girls at increasingly younger ages seem to be developing impaired body esteem, and I strongly believe that this is (in part) due to the images they see on a regular basis. They see the rail thin models in magazines and commercial ads depicting women as sexualized objects. Over time, these messages may lead girls to develop a very skewed idea of beauty and of their role in society, both of which can be potentially damaging.

For my project, I’ll be filming a documentary to study the evolution of body image in girls throughout grade school by talking to girls ages five to eighteen about their thoughts and feelings about their body. I will be hosting various events on campus this year to help my peers develop media literacy and begin to tackle their body image demons. I’ll host two screenings of Miss Representation, one on January 29th open to the entire student body and community and another held for just 5th-6th graders during a mandatory school assembly meeting. After the screenings, Ms. Baucom (the middle school guidance counselor) and I will hold an hour-long discussion group about the documentary. I’m also hosting NEDAwareness Week at my school in February to raise awareness about eating disorders.

Hopefully, through my project, I will draw attention to these issues, and help people realize that what the media present as “beautiful” is often not realistic, and in many cases can be unhealthy, dangerous, or completely impossible to attain. Ultimately, I hope my project positively affects the way my fellow classmates think about themselves when looking in the mirror.

I am very grateful for the help of both Dr. Cynthia Bulik, who gave me the inspiration for my project when she spoke at my school last spring, and Dr. Cristin Runfola, who has been an amazing mentor throughout my project thus far.

Feel free to check out my blog,, and twitter account, @ProjectBREV, to follow my project! Also, check out UNC’s previous blog post on Miss Representation by clicking HERE. I am looking forward to a great year working on Project: Body Revolution!

By: Eleanor Byars