Image campaign “Redefines Beauty”

Kenna McCully, a consumer services major,  was one of several Carson-Newman students who took part in the University’s “Redefining Beauty” events.

Samantha Bates, an art (graphic design) major, was one of several Carson-Newman students who took part in the University’s “Redefining Beauty” events.

Beauty is a concept many let culture define, but the definition culture derives demands perfection in a hopelessly flawed world.

Carson-Newman senior Lexi B. Adams, a human services major, wants to change how beauty is understood.

“Redefine Beauty,” a two-week body image campaign, challenged C-N students to not look to culture for self-worth. From Feb. 18 to March 1, the campaign had daily challenges and events to raise awareness of eating disorders associated with a flawed perception of beauty as well as information to reinvent one’s understanding of beauty.

“I held myself to the world's expectation of it, which caused me to be something I'm not when I tried to meet its standard,” Adams admitted of her own personal journey with beauty. “Therefore, beauty wasn't a joyful thing for me in life. It was more of a burden.”

Adams said she had to redefine beauty for herself and wants to help others do the same. However, it wasn’t until Adams teamed up with C-N’s Counseling Services that she was able to make a real impact on her campus.

Each year, Counseling Services offer events to raise awareness of body image issues during national eating disorder week. When Adams went to Counseling Services with her passion to redefine beauty, Shannon Tuell, a C-N counselor, saw the opportunity to link the two.

“The statistics of college students with eating disorders are staggering,” said Tuell. According to Tuell, the population between 18 to around 24 years of age sees the largest increase of eating disorder incidences.

One-quarter of college-age females engage in binging and purging for weight management, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

“This is the time to encourage students to accept themselves as who they are,” said Tuell.

Activities offered during one week included such events as smashing scales, a day set aside to not look at a mirror, and a student-created mural of ways they are grateful for their body.

This year with the help of Adams and other students, C-N campus observed a two-week student-driven campaign to revolutionize the concept of beauty.

“My goal for the campaign is to challenge & empower — to raise awareness of how the definition of beauty today isn't really true beauty at all, challenging people to see so themselves. And secondly, to also provide an opportunity for people to feel empowered to embrace what we all want to deep inside, which is the beauty of who you are,” said Adams.

The campaign included the activities Counseling Services put on each year and added their own.

A clothes-drive on Friday, Feb. 22, encouraged students to “Be comfortable in your genes. Wear jeans that fit the real you.” Instead of clinging to “skinny day” jeans, students were encouraged to donate them to charity.

Students were encouraged send messages of encouragement on the first Wednesday of the campaign. Free t-shirts were available to spread the message, and students created a video with their own definitions of what beauty is.

“No diet Day” was set aside to encourage students to listen to their body and eat what they want when they are hungry and simply stop when they are full.

Tuell was pleased to have the student participation. She said it has led to a bigger response than ever.

“It is one thing for me to stand in the MSAC asking students to write on the mural, but it is something else entirely for a student to encourage their friends to participate,” Tuell said.

The Student Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics partnered with the campaign to provide further momentum for the movement sweeping campus.

“The campus has responded in so many different ways through the past two weeks,” said Adams. “I have seen people be vulnerable, bold, and real — which then empowered and encouraged someone else to do the same. There was a whole team of students behind the campaign, helping us make it happen. No one had to be asked to help, in all reality there were many times there were plenty hands and not enough stuff to fill them with. Carson-Newman is full of students with passions to make a difference in this world, especially when it comes to seeing it as the Lord created it — beautiful.”