beauty

The teenage school assignment that will change your perceptions on body image.

What’s the worst thing you’ve been called?

Stupid? Ugly?

Slut?

Take a look at the video above. The girls in it have all copped that kind of verbal abuse. (And for the record, they are also, according to their tormentors, fat.)

Anyone else feel like they just nose-dived back into their teenage girl headspace?

Eighteen-year-old Maddi Gill created this truly brilliant video as a HSC project while completing Year 12 in the SA country town of Narracoorte.

The girls featured in the video are her younger sister and her four close friends, all aged between 14 and 16 at the time.

“They shared stories of how they were bullied, shockingly often straight to their faces by their peers. This shocked me – these are five GORGEOUS teenagers. It was so devastating to know they had all been bullied and picked to shreds on their appearance," Maddi said.

"As women, we all have our personal struggles, but understanding that 15-year-old girls are being told by their peers that they are ‘ugly’, ‘stupid’, ‘fat’, ‘flat chested’ or a ‘slut’ made me so upset and angry.

"Yet seeing how these girls supported each other through these revelations was so beautiful and empowering.”

Maddi chose the simple outfits worn in the video to echo the typical “white shirt shot” – “an iconic photograph that has been recreated by so many famous, slim, gorgeous supermodels”.

But Maddi put her own twist on the classic shot. This is how the photo shoot went down:

“[The girls] messed about and got comfortable in front of the camera and squished into the tiny, cold room before I simply asked from behind the camera, ‘what names have you been called [and how has] that has affected how you see yourself?’”

They replied with the exact words on the boards they hold in the video – fat, stupid, ugly, slut.

“The response was raw and genuine and that is obvious through the tears and utter sadness in some of the photos," Maddi said.

“I decided to use these candid, raw photos [to show] that female empowerment, friendship and positive body image is possible, and that if we surround ourselves with people that inspire us to be strong, passionate, and positive we can promote positive body image and the power of friendship,” said Maddi.

The video has now been used by Maddi's high school in counselling sessions.

Singer Meghan Trainor recently took her most recent music video off the internet because she was so appalled by the way it had been photoshopped to make her look slimmer.

But you know what is even better than seeing positive messages about body image and self love from celebrities? Seeing the whole picture from real young women.

Maddi has a keen interest in photography and is currently taking a gap year while she deliberates taking up further study in Secondary Teaching or Midwifery. This video has been published with her permission.

The song featured in the video is ‘Us’ by Regina Spektor.

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