Finding body confidence is a constant process, and one that can be especially difficult for young women growing up in today’s culture. A 14-year-old New Yorker is trying to change that.

Lucia may have just graduated from 8th grade, but her research paper about body image and her efforts to make a positive impact on her classmates are already helping to change how young people feel about themselves. Inspired by her mom and Aerie Senior Vice President of Design, Andrea, Lucia learned about Aerie and our partnership with NEDA, a non-profit that supports those affected by eating disorders. She took that knowledge and went on to write a detailed research paper on the topic, host a Flywheel spinning class to benefit NEDA and bring an expert in the field from NEDA in to her school to present to her entire 8th grade class.

Check out our interview with Lucia and read her paper, “Look At that Beauty in the Mirror! How Body Image Affects Young People Today.”

Why did you write this paper?

Originally it was for school, but as I went on, it became more of a passion. I know a lot of people, especially in my grade, have a lot of problems with their body image. Nowadays, it’s not as much people bullying each other as people bullying themselves.

Why did you want to bring a NEDA presenter to your school?

My friend Abby and I decided it would be a good idea to have someone come talk to a few classes. We didn’t want people to come only if they wanted to—that’s why we told the teachers about the presentation, not the students. We thought that people may be hiding inside that they’re negative about themselves, so we wanted to make sure we could reach everyone who may be struggling.

What is your advice to other girls about body positivity and what you’ve learned from this experience?

I know everyone says this, but it’s to be yourself. As soon as you become comfortable in your own skin, you’re not going to look at other people or look up to other people for what you want to look like or who you want to be.

What are some things you tell yourself to make yourself feel better?

I acknowledge my flaws, but I mostly try to look at what’s good.

What makes you #AerieREAL?

Whenever one of my friends is feeling negative about themselves, I always try to encourage them not to do that. I always tell them they’re beautiful in their own way, and it doesn’t matter what other people think of them.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My mom. She was the one who gave me the idea to choose this topic to work with this year. She’s always pushing me to be better.

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