LoveYourSelf is a group created by students enrolled in Intro to Women Studies 205 at the College of William and Mary. On the very first day of class, we knew we would have to participate in a community action project. The four of us — Alex Ambrosino ’15, Taylor Mack ’15, Margaret Strolle ’15 and Robyn Neill ’15 — officially formed our group on Feb. 14. The group aims to perpetuate positive female body images and attributes. The expression of positive body image, self-esteem and self-worth, which are all components of being confident, are extremely important, but should be based around each woman’s personal definition of beauty.
Today, society’s perception of beauty consists of the “perfect” model, with a skinny figure, flawless skin and silky hair. Most of the time, a woman buys clothes or works out not for herself, but to make herself fit into the societal mold of beauty. This societal paradigm of beauty may carry different meanings, but nonetheless most women feel this pressure to be socially accepted as beautiful.
The goal of our project is to try to break down these expectations and show women that they can be comfortable in their own skin, no matter what ethnicity, race or body type. We want women to define their own beauty and come to terms with who they are, instead of trying to fit the perfect image that society expects of them.
How were we going to do that?
At first, we all wanted to use theater as a medium. Yet, as with any beginner group, we faced the challenge of gathering participants who were willing to convey our ideas. We then decided we would create a forum and show sections of the famous documentary “Killing Us Softly,” which accurately demonstrates how the media plays a vital role in shaping society’s view of what it means to be beautiful.
The forum was no easy task either. We had to advertise in numerous ways, posting flyers all over campus, creating Facebook events and even handing out free brownies in Earl Gregg Swem Library. The success of the forum was evident when many of the women who came showed a very clear interest in the realities and hardships women experience while trying to meet the standards of societal beauty. In addition, many of the women talked about these experiences and shared their own opinions of what they felt it meant to be beautiful.
In the end, we felt that we accomplished our goals, and we want more people — especially women — to make a conscious effort to think more about how much they let society’s image of a “beautiful” woman dictate their lives. We also hope more people will be interested in joining our group next semester.
If you’re interested please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alex Ambrosino, Taylor Mack, Robyn Neill and Margaret Strolle contributed to this guest column.