TCU’s Student Government Association launched a campaign hoping to make students aware of issues surrounding body image and eating disorders.
EmpowerTCU ended Tuesday after a weeklong social media campaign to encourage positive self-image among students.
SGA members stationed around campus with chalkboard signs reading “I’m awesome because” and “I’m beautiful because” with a blank space for students to write why they believe they are awesome or beautiful.
“I was honestly shocked at the number of people that had a hard time coming up with something to write on their chalkboards that they thought was awesome about themselves,” said Laura Simard, sophomore SGA representative. “Some people really didn’t have an answer, and that was kind of sad to me.”
Some students may have struggled to compliment themselves, but the overall student response to the campaign was positive.
“It was exciting to see students proud of being who they are,” said Jared Cline, junior accounting major.
Student Body President Cody Westphal said the campaign was designed so people with eating disorders knew they were not battling alone.
“Body image and eating disorder is in the conversation now, which it should be,” Westphal said.
The campaign used a hands-on, interactive method of raising awareness to make it as inclusive as possible for students.
“The use of the chalkboards allowed TCU students to get involved and participate in a fun and creative way that made it less of an obligation to learn and more of a genuine interest in what message the group was trying to send,” said Laura Todd, sophomore psychology major.
Westphal said multiple people reached out to him to say how the campaign affected them.
“They said, ‘Thank you for this movement. Thank you for this campaign. It’s empowered me to think that you know eating disorders aren’t out of the ordinary, that I can help myself,’” Westphal said.
Westphal said 150 to 200 people took time to pose for pictures with the chalkboards.
The photographs were later added to the EmpowerTCU Facebook page. The page received more than 800 “likes,” along with numerous tags, shares and comments on the images.
“Judging by the numbers, judging be the anecdotes, judging by everything that came together, I think we were successful,” Westphal said.
Sophomore SGA Representative Katie Phillips said she was inspired by the students’ eagerness and willingness to take pictures promoting their own beauty and “awesomeness.”
“I honestly thought we might have to encourage people, but students were seeking us out in order to get their photo taken and take part in the movement,” Phillips said.
Many students who got their pictures taken also shared the images to their own social media outlets.
SGA also made an EmpowerTCU PSA on YouTube that reached over 900 people.
“The fact that we were able to communicate this important message to so many people in the community is so fulfilling,” said junior SGA Representative Lizzie Sparks.
The video highlighted steps to help a friend with an eating disorder. The steps included communicating concerns, being a safe person and helping the person seek treatment.
Westphal said the information on eating disorder statistics used in the video and on campaign posters and flyers was provided by the TCU Counseling Center.
“That step-by-step guide is not a national step-by-step guide on what to do if you think your friend has an eating disorder,” Westphal said. “It’s a very TCU-specific guide.”
Westphal plans to share this TCU guide with student governments on other campuses, including SMU and members of the Big 12.
“I think this is a good thing for other schools to tackle,” Westphal said.
Even though the campaign is over, SGA plans to continue the movement.
“My ultimate hope is that this is not a week-long campaign, but a motto in which we should all strive to live our lives by,” Phillips said.
Westphal said SGA will continue to keep the Facebook page active and post something important about eating disorders and body images every once in a while.
“For people that liked that page, it means it’s something they’re interested in and something they’re passionate about, so hopefully we can keep it as a hub for sharing that information,” Westphal said.
Westphal said he thinks SGA will use something similar in the future to address other major issues like suicide and depression.
“I think that, in the future, this has kind of blown the roof off of what’s possible for SGA,” he said.