Lani Tunzi, at left, with her friend and classmate, Naima Corea

Lani Says: Who Are You? Who? Who?

2018 Columnists February Lani Tunzi

Naima Corea,16, a student artist and musician who is my classmate at Eagle Rock High, has an exhibit on Feb. 3 at the Cactus Gallery L.A. in Elysian Valley. The exhibit will showcase the results of a project of Naima’s on self-image, in which she encouraged her peers to portray their self-image in poems, paintings, photographs and other art forms.

But for Naima, the project wasn’t just about capturing someone’s self-image at a point in time. She also wanted to explore whether bringing attention to self-image through art could shift and improve self-image. “Most of the time, my fellow teenagers see themselves in a negative light,” she said. “Through their art, I hope they realize we should learn to embrace who we are.”

She is really onto something. Self-image is big issue for teenagers. The teen years are prime time for the development of personality, a time for figuring out who you are and aren’t and experimenting with ways to express yourself.

A trap along the way is to correlate body image with happiness. It’s hard to avoid the trap, because everywhere you look is plastered with images of stars, models, celebrities. You may find yourself wishing to be taller/shorter/skinnier, whatever it may be. Many people waste time trying to find ways to “fix” themselves, when they should be learning to accept themselves for who they really are.

Having a positive self-image means you can recognize your qualities and see your potential while being mindful of your limitations. It means learning to carry yourself with confidence and focusing on spreading love and joy.

Naima’s project is a reminder that a balanced and healthy self-image is vital. No matter the reservations you have about your body, the most important aspect of a person is the beauty that lies within and how you choose to express that.

Lani Tunzi is in the 10th grade at Eagle Rock High School