We wanted to reach out to our amazing community of women to ask for your help in supporting The Positive Image Campaign.
Read our exclusive interview with Kate Hardcastle, and author, and relationship expert, Jenni Trent Hughes to hear about the importance of this unique campaign aimed at inspiring confidence.
Positive Image was born 8 months ago by business woman, and Sky News regular, Kate Hardcastle. Having gone from being bullied badly at school, to mentoring and giving talks to young people in her adult life, Kate realised the same issues were cropping up in the younger generation. They were obsessed by image, and lacking in self-belief. Thinking of her own daughter, Kate was spurred on to encourage a team to work together to get more positive role models in the media, and create a feeling of inspired confidence and create a Positive Image.
Bringing together influential voices from a range of sectors and backgrounds, the campaign is about raising the profile of the issue among young people by starting a discussion about how we can inspire greater levels of confidence and encouraging more people to help and be part of it.
A downloadable book will be available along with the Donate an Hour pledge where people can sign up to mentor and support a young person. Kate and the team will also be doing extensive work in schools, and colleges
Students from Calderdale College will be recording a song to accompany the campaign, and the students will be involved in various confidence building exercises. The campaign has already won the support of a number of “voices” including: Jenni Trent Hughes, Wayne Hemingway, Eve Pollard, Jocelyn Brown, Diane Modhal, Dr Helen Wright and lots more.
Why is the positive image campaign so important to you?
Kate: I founded Positive Image in the New Year. I revisited my old school late last year as I was invited back as a respected media and business woman and to inspire the students. Walking back into the school, I realised I had come full circle – from a promising 13 year old me who was being severely bullied to a “voice” in the community and beyond. With that and becoming a mum, the echoes of the importance of finding confidence at a young age circled my mind for months. Speaking to many people over Christmas and New Year, I vowed to make a difference – even if for just one student this year. It looks like that figure may be thousands now.
Jenni: This campaign is important to me for two major reasons. The first is that many of the women who come to me for help in one way or another have ended up in the predicaments they are in because they have a less than positive image about themselves. The other reason is because I find it disheartening to see the way in which so many females in our society, from the ages of 9 to 90 are unhappy with who they are on all levels. I want, in some small way, to help.
What was your self esteem like growing up?
Kate: It was terrible. I was bullied about the way I looked; my background; my academic desires; my dreams about wanting a career, etc and it lasted for 5 years. I put myself on ‘mute’ everyday as I became so scared of speaking out.
Jenni: I was very, very lucky and was blessed with a solid sense of self, that is why I want to share what I was taught. Despite growing up with a mother who was (and still is) obsessed with appearance.
What shaped your view of yourself?
Kate: My family worked constantly for charities, and being exposed to that every day inspired me to lead a life of not just helping charities day by day, but I got the hunger to change situations and the causes indefinitely. I wanted to understand how I could have an ethical business and how could I change things. It was understanding how to achieve this, that gave me the strength to survive my childhood and get me to where I am today.
Jenni: My father told me “Yes you CAN!” (decades before Barack Obama sold the idea to a nation. He never allowed me to give excuses as to why I was not going to be able to do whatever it was that I wanted to do. My mother told me : “No matter how good you look there will always be a few people who look better and a heck of a lot of people who look worse.” As Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your prior consent.”
At what point did things turn around for you, and when did you embrace yourself?
Kate: I was 15 and finding the confidence to be myself was huge mission. I had found a hobby in singing and that gave me the confidence to stand on stage in front of people. I learnt to feel comfortable in my own skin, but it’s only when I’d won several National & International business awards, and I was really making a difference to businesses and charities, that I felt accepted. For me, confidence came from the ability to look at the things I had achieved and feel accepted, and even liked by my peers.
Jenni: When I was 18 and realised that being stick thin was something that women aspired to, while men loved a girl with curves.
Do you think there is more pressure on young people now to look a certain way, than when you were growing up?
Kate: Having been in the schools and colleges, I can certainly say yes – the surveys even say it. We have students thinking about the way they look every MINUTE. 27% of them let their looks affect everything, and 73% of women would like to change something about the way they look. We need more positivity about being individuals.
Jenni: It’s not that I think there is more pressure, it’s that I think the pressure may be focussed in a different way. When I was growing up there was a very narrow range of how you were allowed to present yourself. Nowadays if you don’t want to dress like yourself (which sadly most women don’t) you can dress like anyone, from Michelle Obama to Jordan, to ‘formerly known as Kate Middleton’ and all points inbetween.
How has having a positive self view helped you to excel in your chosen field?
Kate: It has taken time, and being introduced onto the world stage as one the leading experts in my field, still gives me tingles. The 13 year old girl feels a bit better about the extent of her journey. I took the long road and it’s been a long, hard process. I hope we can inspire people to feel better about themselves so they can take up on their opportunities now.
Jenni: Having a positive view of myself has made me believe in myself and that is the key. If you don’t believe in yourself then you can never expect anyone to believe in you either. Would you buy pork sausages from a vegetarian?
To see how you can help and or more information about the Positive Image campaign, or to be involved, please go to: