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Teenage girls from Havering showcase positive body image art exhibition with South Woodford artist

PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 November 2019

Artist Sona Virdee who is assisting the students for the My Body My Voice exhibit. Picture: Sona Virdee

Artist Sona Virdee who is assisting the students for the My Body My Voice exhibit. Picture: Sona Virdee

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A charity which works with girls who are at risk of exploitation is staging an art exhibition about body positivity.

Artwork from exhibit My Body My Voice at the Havering Museum. Picture: Mel ManningArtwork from exhibit My Body My Voice at the Havering Museum. Picture: Mel Manning

Freedom2, a charity which aims to champion and empower girls to discover their potential, ran seven workshops with Year 10 girls from Frances Bardsley and Hornchurch High schools and discussed issues around body positivity, particularly in the social media era.

The project received funding from the National Lottery and artist Sona Virdee-D'Silva, of South Woodford, worked with the girls in the final workshop on sewing protest banners and other works that helped them express topics at the forefront of their minds.

Artwork from exhibit My Body My Voice at the Havering Museum. Picture: Mel ManningArtwork from exhibit My Body My Voice at the Havering Museum. Picture: Mel Manning

The final result of their work will be on display at the My Body, My Voice exhibit at the Havering Museum, Romford, starting on Thursday, November 28.

Sona said: "Even though the girls hadn't sewn before, the work they produced is amazing.

Artwork from exhibit My Body My Voice at the Havering Museum. Picture: Mel ManningArtwork from exhibit My Body My Voice at the Havering Museum. Picture: Mel Manning

"When we started some of the girls weren't confident in their sewing but then they would shock you with what they've made."

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The girls start out with no experience sewing but one of the girls from a previous workshop has continued to sew regularly.

Mel Manning, who started Freedom2 after working as a primary school teacher for 10 years, has been holding the workshops for the past two years to empower girls between the ages of 12 and 17, who are potentially at risk of exploitation.

She said "The workshops represent a platform for the girls to have a say about what is important to them through art."

In the workshops the girls discussed how they feel about the pressures of maintaining an attractive body image and talked about things to counter that, like the "No Make Up Movement", championed by singer Alicia Keys.

Sona said: "We need to raise awareness around these topics that are important to so many young girls and get them to express how it makes them feel."

My Body My Voice will run until December 12.

For information on opening times of the museum visit https://www.haveringmuseum.org.uk/ or Freedom2.org.uk to find out more about the charity or to support their work.

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