Geneseo sorority Royal Lady Knights recently kicked off its second annual Body Image Campaign on Monday March 23. The weeklong event featured activities such as yoga and a slam poetry night with Geneseo Poets’ Society that emphasized the importance of body positivity while addressing various societal pressures that can lead to an unhealthy self-image.
“In this day and age with so much social media, we are constantly subjected to other people’s standards of beauty,” RLK service chair sophomore Olivia MacDonald said. “It creates a really bad foundation for a lot of young men and women who are not happy with themselves because they’re concentrating on Photoshopped images … We want to create a strong foundation for mental, emotional and physical health; that’s really important.”
RLK members tabled in the MacVittie College Union all week, giving out free badges emblazoned with empowering messages promoting self-love and body acceptance. They also encouraged individuals to have their picture taken with their own whiteboard messages about what body positivity means to them.
RLK publicity chair junior Rachel Winter explained that while many believe the campaign is only applicable to women, men struggle with and deserve as much support when it comes to dealing with body insecurities. “We have a picture that says, ‘It’s just as hard to be Ken as it is to be Barbie,’” she said. “It’s not just about the struggles that women face with their bodies, we want support from men too.”
“To be able to bring a lot of different people together helps to spread awareness,” RLK service chair junior Lisette Smith added. “It’s a way that we can reach out to the campus, actively instilling those positive vibes.”
RLK service chair junior Stephanie Clookey expressed the idea that reaching out to all students––Greek or not––is crucial in order to help change their mentality on the control they have over their insecurities. She emphasized this in her performance on poetry night; likening societal pressures and conventional beauty standards to a noose. “With every thought of inadequacy, the knot tightens,” she said. “But the noose is a choice; to wear it or not is a choice that you have to realize you have.”
While they acknowledged that it can be a struggle, the members placed an emphasis on celebrating and embracing one’s uniqueness rather than comparing oneself to others. “You are allowed to be yourself,” Winter said. “You should be happy with how you look; it’s all one thing, just being who you are.”
RLK will host a positive body image T-shirt making event in Newton 204 from 7-8 p.m. on Thursday March 26, and the campaign will conclude on Friday March 27 with a dinner and presentation from associate professor of sociology Elaine Cleeton entitled “Whose Body?” in the College Union Ballroom from 6-8 p.m. Tickets are $3 for students and $4 for faculty and staff with all proceeds going to the eating disorder rehabilitation clinic The Healing Connection in Fairport, New York.