In a society where the media dictates beauty standards, oftentimes a mirror can be a girl’s worst enemy. SFU student Taylor Hui has set out to change that mentality with her not-for-profit organization BeaYOUtiful. The program — which is aimed for girls in grades six and seven — spends six weeks focusing body positivity, self-confidence, and helping these girls to redefine ‘beautiful.’
The program was inspired by her experiences growing up. As a child, Hui faced negativity, competition, and bullying. Despite facing adversity, support from friends and family helped her get through the difficult times and propelled her into even bigger challenges, like facing the modelling and acting industries. Hui acknowledges, though that she was the exception among her friends.
“My parents were my biggest supporters, and helped me get through. Unfortunately, my friends had self-esteem issues, eating disorders, [and] very little support [. . .] my friend realized the importance of her looks in grade three,” Hui explained. “No girl should feel that at such a young age.”
So Hui made it her mission to help young girls. In grade 11, she came up with the current curriculum that BeaYOUtiful mentors teach throughout the six weeks. In grade 12, she was able to implement the program in schools.
Despite the enthusiasm that Hui felt for the program, members of the school board challenged her on her qualifications. However, Hui was determined to show the school board why she was fit for the job, despite her young age and lack of a degree.
“You can give me a textbook, sit me in lectures, make me memorize definitions. . . but you can’t be taugh+t experience,” she said. She stressed the fact that she didn’t want the program to be an extension of school, but a chance for them to connect with other girls and the mentors in a safe environment. “We’re not there to be a teacher or a counsellor. We are there to be a sister.”
Having heart-to-heart conversations, listening to speakers, and creating dream boards are some of the many ways that BeaYOUtiful instills confidence in the young girls. Hui asks that the girls be vulnerable so as to get “the most out of the experience.”
Since its inception, the program’s core team has expanded with people who share Hui’s passion for making a difference.
Alyssa Magahis, BeaYOUtiful’s events coordinator, first got involved when a friend asked her to join. After successfully mentoring a group of girls, Magahis was eventually asked to take on the role she currently has.
“I wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives, but didn’t really know how,” she said. “This program really warmed my heart and helped me achieve this goal.”
BeaYOUtiful, now beginning its fourth year, shows no signs of slowing down.
In 2015, Hui and BeaYOUtiful created the “Spoil Me Royal Project” to help one lucky girl have the ultimate prom experience complete with a dress, make-up, and a limo — a dream that many girls in the Lower Mainland are unable to afford due to financial struggles.
Possibilities for expansion into other parts of British Columbia, Canada, and the rest of the world are long term goals for Hui, but for now, Hui’s focus is set on reaching as many students as possible.
For those students that are looking to make a difference, Hui urges them to consider becoming a mentor for BeaYOUtiful.
Whether Hui is in front of the camera or travelling around the world, she ensures BeaYOUtiful will always be a “passion project” that keeps her grounded.
“[BeaYOUtiful] reminds me always that I am beautiful, and I hope that other girls will learn to see that in themselves.”