By Elise Schoening
The College community came together last week to advocate for body-positivity and self-love. Students and staff members alike took time out of their days to share empowering photos of themselves and of others who inspire them, for the College’s “Proud2BMe” campaign that ran from Monday, April 20, to Friday, April 24.
“We’re trying to help people realize that everyone has something to be proud of and to build up the confidence within,” said Samantha Selikoff, a sophomore elementary education and STEM major and photo editor of The Signal.
The five-day challenge consisted of various photo challenges meant to inspire students and create a more positive environment on campus. On the first day, students were encouraged to post a filter-free selfie to social media and appreciate their natural beauty. The second day involved posting a photo captioned “today is beautiful because of you” and tagging a friend in the challenge. Other daily challenges included posting photos of one’s passions, inspirations and sources of confidence.
The entire College community rallied behind “Proud2BMe,” which quickly spread from students to faculty. The Campus Town staff, as well as College spokesman David Muha and beloved Eickhoff worker Eve Cruz participated in the campaign.
This is the first year the College has participated in the campaign, but it will certainly not be the last. According to Selikoff, “Proud2BMe” was started just last year by California State University, Northridge. It is now being led by NEDA, the National Eating Disorder Association.
The weeklong social media campaign focused on self-confidence or the lack thereof among college students today. A large number of men and women today struggle with negative body image and poor self-esteem, which can lead to the development of eating disorders.
After hearing the powerful stories her peers had to share, Selikoff wrote to NEDA and began corresponding with Emma Shakarsky, an outreach coordinator. Shakarsky suggested Selikoff bring the “Proud2BMe” campaign at the College.
“That’s why we’ve launched ‘Proud2BMe’ on campus, a national initiative to bring students, faculty, and campus services together in the fight against eating disorders,” said Shakarsky on her blog for NEDA. “We know with early detection, intervention and awareness, we can make a difference.”
“People don’t really realize that eating disorders affect all different people, not just girls,” Selikoff said. “So we’re trying to raise awareness of that.”
Selikoff worked closely with the Counseling and Psychological Services on campus to organize and promote the campaign at the College. Although the campaign was created by NEDA, “Proud2BMe” aims to promote greater self-esteem in all members of the college community, not just those struggling with eating disorders. Everyone is encouraged to participate, celebrate their strengths and pass the positivity onto others.
At the end of the week, Selikoff said she had taken over 500 photographs, which has been compiled into a video. The video will be sent to NEDA and may be used to promote the campaign next year.
“The biggest reason I did this was just to spread confidence,” Selikoff said. “Never forget that even if you’re having a bad day, there’s always something to be proud of, and don’t let something small take that away from you.”