We modern humans have a strange and often destructive relationship with our bodies. Too fat, too skinny, imperfect, ugly — these are epithets that we’ve all hurled at ourselves, or others, at some point in time. The causes of our cultural body-image distortion may be debatable, but the results are self-evident: In Singapore, one in 15 girls is at risk of developing an eating disorder and anecdotally, there is a rising trend of males at risk as well.
Amidst this cloud of negativity, two girls in Singapore are determined to take on a gargantuan task: to empower our generation with a positive self- and body-image.
Made Real — What is it?
Launched by local undergraduates Roslyn and Robin in January this year, Made Real is a social enterprise which aims to promote a healthy body image through three things: balanced eating, fitness, and happiness.
Made Real’s ambition, the two twenty-year-olds say, is to help Singaporeans to “be better versions of themselves”. Whether you’re a fitness junkie, a full-on couch potato, or someone with health difficulties, Made Real is dedicated to shaping a community where taboos relating to body-image don’t exist. At the same time, the girls also want to take on the pervasive problem of body-image dissatisfaction in our society, while rallying support for a balanced lifestyle.
All that sounds like a rather tough order to accomplish. But this driven duo plans to do it, one healthy snack box at a time.
From Social Movement to Social Enterprise
Made Real started out last year as just a social movement, Roslyn says, but “we soon realized that this was not enough… There was so much potential for Made Real to grow as a health and wellness brand with a social mission.”
At first, their focus was on spreading awareness about body image disorders — scroll through the Made Real website and you’ll be moved by the deeply personal stories of ex-sufferers featured there. To ensure sustainability, however, the Made Real team decided to angle their business model towards providing healthy, yet affordable snacks.
We snack for various reasons: when we’re hungry, yes, but also when we’re bored, angry, sad, and so on. That’s not even mentioning the huge amount of deliciously unhealthy snacks on the market; it’s oh-so-easy to slide into eating what’s bad for your body. Which is why Made Real’s subscription-based specialty product, Oh-Goodies!, can go a long way towards encouraging us to treat our long-suffering bodies better.
Essentially, Oh-Goodies! is a healthy snack package conveniently delivered to your doorstep. Prices range from S$23.50 for a one-month membership to $253.50 for a year. Nutritious snacks don’t sound too exciting, but the packages are uniquely curated each month to feature a wide spectrum of locally and regionally produced snacks.
And that’s not all: Roslyn reveals that from their March Edition: Think Spring! box onwards, each package will be sweetened with inspiration for a healthy lifestyle.
“[The boxes] will include a snippet of an inspiring story of recovery from disordered eating, or of simply achieving greater health. We feature a different fitness service each month. This month, all our subscribers get a free personal training session. We also offer nutritional, fitness, and happiness or self-love tips — which covers our three core values.
The plan is to make achieving a more positive self- and body-image fun and achievable.”
Despite the pivot, Roslyn emphasises that Made Real’s mission remains the same: “We can pump back revenue into spreading awareness on the risks of a destructive self- and body-image, and into channels for recovery.”
The Inspiration to Inspire
Roslyn shares that the inspiration for Made Real was profoundly personal: it came from the founders’ own struggles with a destructive body-image.
“I formerly had symptoms of anorexia and bulimia, while Robin was a victim of orthorexia — over-exercising and obsession with ‘clean’ eating. We realised that society and our community had a large role to play in our recovery.
Conversely, we also realised that there was a social gap where society had failed to provide awareness, guidance and support for the many individuals who suffer the way we did. We felt that clinical and psychological support were insufficient… Made Real was founded to provide that social support.”
The Made Real team is living proof that giving back often rewards itself. Setting out on their journey of inspiring others to live well, the girls have themselves met with many inspiring experiences so far — “way more than can be covered in a short interview”, Roslyn laughs. But she does note one thing she continually draws inspiration from:
“The people who approach us to contribute their story of recovery to the site… We really want to create this openness towards talking about your personal experiences with a destructive or negative self- and body-image.
Through this, we can show those currently dealing with body-image disorders that there are many routes to achieving better physical and mental health — and that they are not alone.”
Since their launch in January, Oh-Goodies! has received encouraging public response. According to Roslyn, “Many are drawn to the novelty factor and the range of snacks we have to offer. We can only hope to keep up with selecting awesome snacks, and meet our fans’ demands.”
In fact, given the small size of the team and the fact that they’re currently juggling Made Real with university life, a challenge they face is biting off more than they can handle. If you’ve been inspired by their startup and would love to support them, Roslyn adds, “We are constantly looking for more people to help out for our various projects.”
Peeking into their calendar, it looks like a busy year ahead for the Made Real team. Right now, they’re already in the midst of running a program about body positivity and confidence for the Singapore Girls’ Home. In addition, Roslyn says, “We’re working on curating Oh-Goodies! based on a new monthly theme for the next three months. We’re also looking at more collaborations, with health personalities as well as food or fitness companies.”
Through it all, Roslyn and Robin plan to live by the principle of “work hard, play hard”. As Roslyn puts it:
“We are all about balanced living. We don’t believe there’s a need to eat clean to be healthy — unless you want to do so! — so long as you meet your nutritional needs.
This comes hand-in-hand with self-care and an active lifestyle. We believe in treating yourself well, and finding a fitness regime or sport that you enjoy and find suitable. As co-founders, we live by this.”