Candela Yatche: “When I finished high school, some classmates started treatment for an eating behavior disorder (ED) and that’s when I woke up and said ‘wow, something happened here'”
The last year of high school is the great event expected by all students. But, at the same time, it carries a high load of demands and pressures for the image. The concern to fulfill an ideal of beauty and reach the perfect weight attracts attention, especially that of the female sex. The alumni trip, the parties and the clothes for each specific occasion, give the physical the main role. A situation that at the time challenged Candela Yatche (25) and many other girls: “That year I had a lot of obsession with my body and when I finished high school, some classmates started treatment for an eating behavior disorder (ED) and it was That’s when I woke up and said ‘wow, something happened here’”.
It was on that occasion that the young woman reconsidered everything she had experienced during her time at school and realized that this pressure to lose weight also had other aspects. “Something similar happened, for example, before summer arrived, before a party for 15, a wedding. Even in everyday life, when struggling with a piece of clothing that we want to wear but that may be smaller. After seeing this situation, I continued looking for information and I found that in Argentina there is culturally a lot of pressure for aesthetics, especially for image, and this demand is unequal between men and women”, explains Yatche.
When taking his first steps in the university world, he chose to study Psychology at the UBA in order to work on everything related to eating disorders. During that tour, Candela met Guillermina Rutztein’s research team, dedicated to the prevention of eating disorders, and which she later joined. “I realized that there was a lot to do in favor of prevention and I opened an Instagram four years ago with the name Bellamente to be able to transmit content that helps prevent eating disorders,” summarizes the activist.
Candela during a TED talk in Rosario, where she spoke about body diversity
According to international studies by Mervat Nasser released by the Association to Fight Bulimia and Anorexia (Aluba), Argentina is positioned behind Japan as the second country with the most cases of anorexia and bulimia. Also, according to the Argentine Society of Pediatrics, 1 in 3 young women suffers from one of these pathologies. Inspired by the phrase of the philosopher Foucault, “make the invisible visible”, the psychologist decided to raise her voice to overthrow the mandates installed in society: “from there it was that I took up the subject of body diversity, always understanding it from a perspective of health, of how it impacts that there is no body diversity in the images, of how it affects that people who do not fit that ideal of beauty are discriminated against.”
In her words, Candela defines Bellamente as “a space for dialogue and a collective embrace that encourages, on the one hand, to be better with ourselves, and on the other, to have good practices in favor of body diversity, leaving aside the fat-hate, aesthetic discrimination and the constant emphasis on people’s physique”.
Over time, what started as a social network account grew by leaps and bounds. Candela began to give talks at institutions, schools and even companies. Later, accompanied by a work team, she organized events and festivals for the project’s followers. Today it is a non-profit foundation that divides its work into 3 areas: education, communication and research. Within the educational sphere, there is the development of guides and training on body image in secondary schools throughout the country. From these classes, it seeks to “foster critical thinking in favor of inclusion and diversity” and “promote reflection on the ideal of beauty as a sociocultural construction.” So far, more than 15,000 adolescents from 20 provinces have successfully participated in this program.
Candela Yatche is 25 years old and studied Psychology at the UBA in order to work on everything related to eating disorders
On the other hand, the organization carries out quantitative studies to evidence in numbers the different social problems that exist, and thus disseminate them and encourage their prevention. In alliance with the UBACyT Project, three investigations were published in which more than 15,200 people were surveyed. In one of its surveys (Impact of Socio-Cultural Pressures on Body Image), 93% of the women who participated are strongly influenced by the culture that contributes to causing or justifying weight loss, and 74% are influenced by social models.
Finally, one of the strongest legs of Bellamente is its community. His Instagram profile has approximately 255,000 followers, and it is through interaction on social networks, plus meetings, festivals, and communication campaigns that solidarity, empathy, and a shared struggle to question imposed stereotypes are fostered. Last year, within the framework of the International Day to Fight Eating Disorders, they held their third festival at the Recoleta Cultural Center. More than 700 people attended and different artists and activists were invited to share informative talks and live shows. With multiple challenges ahead and goals to be achieved, one of the great expectations for the non-profit foundation is to expand the work and its impact in other Spanish-speaking countries.
Despite the fact that there is still a long way to go to see greater diversity in everyday life, the 25-year-old highlights that today there is more and more representation in the images. “The ideal of beauty is still very present, but I think that within the campaigns there is a change. Then there are more and more enterprises with a diversity of sizes. We need the brands, once the national size law is implemented, to comply with it and implement it, I think that is something fundamental”, he remarks punctually and insists on the importance of not seeing body diversity as a fashion, but as a concept to incorporate.
Candela at a meeting of Bellamente, the foundation she created so that people learn to see “other people differently”
The media and social networks also play an essential role for Yatche within the paradigm shift: “they are great transmitters of beauty stereotypes, both at a discursive level and in terms of images. Their role is key, because they spread a lot of information and communication can be a very constructive or destructive tool”. Focusing on talents and actions, and leaving aside bodies and appearances, is what she proposes to progress when communicating, “simply put the focus on what corresponds”.
As Bellamente developed and fulfilled its objectives step by step, there was a before and after that completely marked its creator. “She dedicated a lot of time to the obsession with my body, to the self-torture that criticism is. I replaced all of that with hours of research, work, creation interventions, talks, training. I chose where to spend my time and I feel that my time is much more constructive when I am planning these things, and not when I am thinking about how I am going to modify my body to fit the ideal. It changed me a lot and it makes me happy to do what I do”, she confesses with great satisfaction.
Referring to her achievement Bellamente, a section of stories on Instagram where followers share their testimonies and progress with others, the young woman meditates and confesses: “My achievement Bellamente is to stop seeing myself as an object, as a decoration, it is to see myself me as a person. Accept, share and take charge of what I think. That was the achievement, it was learning to look differently, learning to look at other people differently, learning to see myself and take advantage of all the potential and put all the energy into contributing and generating social transformations, more than bodily transformations”.
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