Women Who Are Championing Body Positivity With Their Own Initiatives

body-image

We live in a culture and time when media, social networking and the internet rules supreme. We have instant access to everything we want at our fingertips, which also means an increased presence of advertising on everything we see. Advertising is relentless, because it is what fuels the media industry (literally, with money) so it becomes a double-edged sword of the media perpetuating what the advertisers are peddling, and barely any room for the realistic messages to seep through.

Thankfully we are starting to see brands like Pantene, Dove, Always and even Covergirl changing their messages to reflect more of what the consumers want, but it is still very much an uphill battle. What is going to help these companies get their message across, is everyday men and women rising up to the challenge and filling in the gaps in families, schools and communities.

This is where the internet can be a positive force for ordinary people to spread positive messages and allow them to become just as powerful and viral as big brands and companies who have a tonne of money behind them. We recently stumbled upon two women in different parts of the United States who have created body image initiatives which were borne out of their  own experiences and struggles.

The first is Sarah Renfro from Kentucky, who is a former model turned church minister. Kentucky.com shared her story online about how she is using her experience to empower girls in the community to find self-worth and confidence away from the media. At 15 years old she signed a contract with Elite modeling agency, one of the biggest in the world, and traveled the globe getting to shoot for publications like Seventeen magazine.

sarah-renfro

But she tells a familiar tale of many other models who have a rigorous work schedule, where she lived on coffee and cigarettes to maintain a low weight, and ended up getting an eating disorder.

“I struggled with disordered eating and depression, constantly being told that I wasn’t good enough just as I was. I wasn’t thin enough or blond enough or big-busted enough or … I was the 1 percent of the population who is in the magazines and catalogs and on billboards and in commercials, yet I had low self-esteem and a negative body image. I was being paid for looks and yet I felt I wasn’t good enough,” she wrote on her blog.

By the time she was 21, she was sick of it all, returned to Lexington, Kentucky, and earned two degrees from University of Kentucky and Lexington Theological Seminary. She married another minister and is now using her platform to inspire other girls to know their worth doesn’t come from what they see in the media.

sarah-renfro

She conducts workshops, and helps girls and women focus on improving their self-esteem by viewing themselves as beautifully created by God. She used empowering verses from the Bible to show them that they are each individually made for a great purpose on earth, not just to be viewed as objects like the media sometimes teaches. Sharing her own personal journey has proven to be effective in showing girls the very unglamorous side of the industry. Not every model is a multimillionaire like Gisele Bundchen after all!

“The more I told my story, the more I reflect on my experience,” she said. “I saw how terrible the standard was, how it hurts us all.”

While Sarah’s story may not be the same as all other women, her is a powerful one and she is now using her voice to create change in young girls’ lives. You can see more about her workshops on body image, media, and faith by going to her website, where you can also book her for speaking engagements.

The other girl who caught our interest was Jenna Clark from Minnesota. She is studying at Clarkson University in St. Paul and one of her class projects was a catalyst for her campaign, called The Pursuit of You. She is majoring in social documentation, and turned her project into a website, a video and a mission to empower her fellow students.

pursuit-of-you

“Every day, we’re exposed to a constant buzz of what we are — and are not — supposed to look like. There’s this idealistic body image we’re all trying to emulate. We wish we could look like those models,” she said in an interview with local paper North County Now. She believes the status quo being subconsciously taught by the media and advertising in crippling the younger generation of girls’ self-esteem even before they enter the workforce, and she has come up with a genius idea.

She has developed a digital label called ‘E&A‘ which stands for enhancement and alteration, and her idea is to have an E&A label attached to every advertising campaign we see.

“I had to make a piece for class on something I feel strongly about. I chose body image. I want people to watch this video and feel like they can act on it. So, I was walking down the food aisle one day and I saw organic food labels. It hit me, why not have one for pictures and advertising? My teachers liked idea, so I’m studying how to get a label trademarked.”

e-and-a-free-logo

Genius! She is in the process of raising funds to get her idea to the right people.

“We grow up seeing all these unreal images and are told they’re ideal,” she says. “The generation below me is constantly bombarded by these distortions. You can’t say it’s not going to affect them.”

Seriously, we would love to see an “ingredients” label added to every image we see in magazines, on billboards and in advertising. While it won’t automatically fix the issue, perhaps it will give companies more accountability to reduce the amount of digital enhancement they normally do, and enable consumers to have a more realistic perspective of what they are looking at.

Jenna’s determination to hijack the world of advertising and infiltrate the dangerous mindsets which are handed down from generation to generation is incredibly inspiring. It shows all of us that we are the ones who have the power to change, and it starts with our own communities, families and social network. Whether you are a model-turned-minister, or a student working on a school project, you can have an impact on those around you.

Check out Jenna’s ‘The Pursuit of You’ campaign video below where she explains her message clearly:

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/08/18/3385315/kentucky-minister-and-former-model.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/08/18/3385315/kentucky-minister-and-former-model.html#storylink=cpshe wrote on her blog.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/08/18/3385315/kentucky-minister-and-former-model.html#storylink=cpy

One Comment

  1. do you have a fb link

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