Who is Olivia Foundation is a not for profit organization that has a mission to raise self-esteem for all Women. It aims to provide support for women to overcome challenges in today’s world, creating social change and tackling areas of school and workplace bullying, mental health support, suicide prevention.
As part of this week’s Wellness Wednesday series, The London Living team chatted with the founder of the Olivia Foundation Sze Sze Yuan at the ‘Be Bare Festival’ on Saturday, to find out how she plans to change the beauty industry and their influence on unrealistic beauty standards and mental health issues surrounding low self-esteem and body image concerns.
Twitter – @whoisolivia_uk
Instagram – whoisolivia_uk
What was the reason behind starting the Who is Olivia Foundation?
Body image and appearance is the number one shame trigger for women and for men it is being perceived as being ‘weak’. Body image anxiety and mental health are interconnected. In our current culture, most women are constantly under pressure from social media to look good and live the perfect life. Everything these days has a filter, and we are afraid to be really seen as our ‘true’ selves. Beauty industries are marketing their products in an unethical way, particularly on social media where they use influencers to manipulate messages sent to the younger audience.
Recent statistics also show that:
- An average teenager spends 3 hours daily online
- 1 in 4 young women in the UK are suffering from depression and anxiety
- Social media pressure and body image pressure are rated the highest, and the number is rising in children too.
We are living in a culture that is obsessed with appearance and we are looking at a generation of people that are identifying their self-worth with how they look and have low self-esteem. We believe at the Olivia Foundation that we must act now before it spreads into the next generations.
Can you tell us little bit more about the annual campaign “No Makeup In May” ? How can our readers get involved and what does this aim to achieve?
Both men and women can get involved by signing up on our website https://whoisolivia.org/. The ‘No Makeup in May’ campaign is aimed at giving freedom to people that are participating in the campaign by giving them an opportunity to commit to unconditional self-love for 30 days and break a habit of using makeup. This is also about influencing young minds around us by being an example of courage and belief.
We also aim to change the industries approach by collaborating and requesting them to market products in an ethical way that is empowering and to not exploit people’s insecurities and create self-doubt. We want to change how women are being seen and what we are seeing on screen. We dare to love the skin we are in and we are enough and complete, there is nothing wrong to fully embrace yourself.
Follow our social media page for announcement and join our support group on Facebook to connect with other supporters.
I attended the Be Bare Festival which was held on Saturday 4th May 2019 – a wellness festival aiming to raise self-esteem and self-awareness through wellbeing and inspirational workshops. It was so inspiring and I learnt so much! What was your biggest take-away from the event?
I am touched and inspired by all the attendees. Nobody was using their phone, no one was drinking alcohol, and everyone was fully engaged. It was amazing to see people putting their guard down and having fun as it is very rare in today’s world. I am honoured to be a part of their journey.
With the constant pressure of social media, and mental illness statistics on the rise, what advice could you give our readers who are struggling with self-acceptance / expression?
Be kind to yourself by saying nice things, ignore the little voice that keeps telling you “you can’t”. All behaviours are belief drivers and the moment you say “I can” then your possibility is endless. Be around people that inspire you and appreciate you, trust life and people and no matter what happen always choose love, forgiveness and courage.
What future plans do you have in store for the Who is Olivia Foundation? Do you have any further events coming up that you could share with our readers?
Our main focus is building a community and spreading awareness. We are planning monthly events and workshops for all to gather together throughout the year. Be Bare Festival will be running every year in April/ May for the big celebration!
Keep an eye out on our social media channels and stay tuned with more information.
Where are your favourite places / favourite things to do in London that helps you become mentally clearer and happier?
I love going to the gym and I am always looking out for a new self-development course and alternative healings workshops. It is important for Londoners to keep moving, keep learning new things, be curious and remember to have fun.
And lastly, what positive changes would you like to see in the beauty industry in the next few years?
I am running a petition on change.org to end air brushing in the UK. I would like to see the UK government follow the footsteps of France and other countries that are banning the use of Photoshop used on models – in magazines and so on. I think that will be a major step to help fight eating disorders and body image concerns. Social media needs a social conscience and a digital moral compass to steer by and I hope that I am contributing to this in my own way.