“You would be prettier if you lost weight,” are words that are contradictory to the newfound body positivity movement. The phrase, found on flyers and newsletters, was used to draw eyes to the #ContagiouslyConfidentULV event on Monday. The hashtag was brought to University of La Verne by senior communications major, Savannah Torres as part of her senior project.
The body positive movement recently rose out of social media apps such as Instagram, turning focus away from heavily edited photos that create an unrealistic representation of the human body. Torres has worked on the project for over a year and said it stemmed from a very personal place.
“I am not a confident person, and ever since I found out we had to do a senior project, I knew that I wanted to bring confidence to campus, to help me and others,” Torres said.
To help spread her message, Torres brought singer, plus size model and body activist, Rhapsody Artajo to speak about her opinions on body positivity and her experiences with body image issues. Artajo created the brand “Contagiously Confident” in order to help spread the optimism she says is key to true body positivity.
“I have fat, I am not fat. There is no reason to wait to reach a certain number on a scale in order to love yourself,” Artajo said.
Artajo has struggled with positive body image all her life, and it only worsened after a difficult break-up with her boyfriend of 14 years and the death of her two mothers.
“When you lose everything that keeps you mentally on this Earth, you question why anything matters,” Artajo said.
However, Artajo stressed that even at her lowest point, it was how she viewed herself and her situation that helped her move forward and to where she is today.
“You have the ability to choose whether or not negativity affects you,” Artajo said.
Confidence manifests itself in different forms, and Torres said she hopes to document those manifestations through her Instagram page, @ContagiouslyConfidentULV.
“To me, confidence can be even just wearing a brighter color, I wear dark colors because they’re considered more slimming, but when I wear bright colors I’m breaking out of my normal, and that takes confidence,” Torres said.
The event also included a fashion show, featuring clothes from Dress Barn, a store in San Dimas which carries clothing sizes from 2 petite to women’s 24. The models were students from the University and showcased a variety of styles and body types.
Maddie Neely, junior computer science major said that the media has a direct affect on how viewers perceive the things that are out of their control.
“Your worth is not dictated by some gene you may or may not have,” Neely said.
No matter someone’s physical features, gender or race, Artajo said the body positivity movement stresses that everyone should strive to be happy in every aspect of life.
Artajo ended the event by remarking, “you are in charge of your own happiness.”
For more information, visit ContagiouslyConfidentULV on Instagram.
Marisa Saldaña can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.