We recently caught up with Kristina, Co-Founder of the amazing non-profit organisation, Project Heal, to find out a bit more about what they do and her thoughts and advice on loving yourself. As part of our #EteLove campaign we are donating 100% of profits from our Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful T-shirts to ProjectHEAL and the Butterfly Foundation.
What motivated you to start Project Heal?
I started this 10 years ago when I was 15 on my own recovery from Anorexia with my co-founder Liana. The two of us met in treatment when we were 13 and really developed a healthy recovery orientated friendship.
As our own recovery started to get better, our conversations started to shift from personal body image/eating disorder issues to more broad issues centred around the idea that so many people can’t get treatment. Due to the expense and lack of insurance coverage. We thought this is horrible, we had to do something about it.
What is your mission and ultimate goal with Project Heal?
We are now the largest grassroots eating disorder non-profit providing prevention treatment, financing, and recovery support. We have two programs the first is communities of healing which is the first peer support and mentor program for people with eating disorders.
Our second project is the treatment assistance program. We began by funding treatment for individuals who couldn’t afford it but it wasn’t a sustainable model. We have recently been enhancing our treatment assistance program to have a greater impact, serving as more of an insurance utilisation and case navigation program. While providing financial assistance with the smaller costs to help them get the care they need.
The ultimate goal is to help more people and also collect vita so we can have a great stand in reforming the system as a whole.
Tell us a little more about your body positivity journey?
It took me 3 full years after I was at a healthy weight and eating normally that I considered myself in full recovery. That’s where I think positive body image started to kick in, up until then if you ever would have told me I would love my body I never would have believed that was possible.
What does body positivity mean to you?
I think its really about body image not having such a huge role in your life. It’s something about me; it is by no means the most important thing about me. It’s one aspect and its not one that really changes all that much.
You were both so young when you started Project Heal. What advice would you give young girls wanting to start a business or cause?
My biggest advice is persistence and grit. You have to develop a thick skin and just know that no matter what, I care about this and I’m going to keep going.
What do you do for self-care and self-love to make yourself happy?
I do yoga, I really like yoga. I live in San Diego California, so I love being outside in the sun. I do hikes and spend time at the beach on the weekends. I also like to take time for my relationships, making time to catch up, sometimes over dinner and wine.
What is your top tip for loving yourself and keeping a positive body image?
Cultivating an image of who you want to be. Look towards the people you really admire in your life. Look at what you admire about them and what makes them beautiful. It usually has a lot less to do with the physical appearance. It’s more about how they conduct themselves, how confident they are and how passionate they are about the things they talk about. It’s something to strive towards, working to cultivate those qualities in yourself.
How does social media play a role in positive body image and how can we stay safe on social media?
Social media has completely changed the ball game but its here to stay, so we have to find ways to work with it. I think that social media can be used as an unhealthy thing, one of the worsts things you can do is make comparisons and similarly, time spent on social media browsing and being passive on the platform.
On the flip side from a body positive perspective I think social media has actually been kind of great. You are able to cultivate really positive images for yourself; you get to choose who you follow. We have the power to decide how we view and use social media.
Who are some of your top favourites to follow on social media?
What advice would you give to someone helping their friends with negative self-image?
Just be there. Often times we want to fix things and with conversations like body image and self-esteem it’s not a quick fix and sometimes you just need to hear from a friend “I get it, I’ve been there, a lot of people feel like this and I’m here to sit with you through the bad feelings and know I’m here for you.”
Directing your friend to health at every size resources and showing them the research on this stuff and encouraging them to follow some of the people you feel are really body positive influences and role models.
For more #EteLove stories read our Q&A with Jes & Alyna from Healthy Size You
To help support the Positive Body Image movement, we are donating 100% of Profits from the sale of our Be Your Own Kind Of Beautiful T-Shirts to the Butterfly Foundation and ProjectHEAL - Shop the T-Shirts here.