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By McCall Linke, UW Institutional Communications intern
Barbie doll figures and super model-thin looks were challenged in a poster campaign titled “Real Women, Real Bodies” at the University of Wyoming, and that, in turn, has led to a club that teaches students to accept the way they look.
When UW sophomore student Sydney Stein was younger, she realized that glamour images from various media publications were not realistic. That sparked an idea.
“I had the idea for these posters of silhouettes of women’s bodies in middle school or high school. I really just wanted to shoot the pictures and hang them up on campus,” Stein explains her inspiration for the campaign.
Before they could hang up their posters, Stein and her friends first organized an RSO (recognized student organization) club.
Much like the name suggests, “Real Women, Real Bodies” highlights the average woman’s body, not the pop-culture images of skinny-looking females. Its mission: encourage all people to feel comfortable in their own skin and love themselves for exactly who they are; discouraging the idea that all bodies must conform to the unrealistic concept of beauty that prevails in today’s world, Stein says.
The UW student-led club has about a dozen members and more than 2,000 followers on Facebook.
Stein, a secondary education major and honor student from Breckenridge, Colo., founded “Real Women, Real Bodies” last spring.
Starting with friends, and former UW students Morgan Looney from Chugiak, Alaska, and Hannah King of La Verne, Calif., Stein went straight to Aaron Lozano, the coordinator for student advising in the UW Center for Advising and Career Services. Together, they jumped through the hoops and filled out the necessary paperwork to become a recognized student organization on the UW campus.
“My job affords me a lot of interaction with students,” Lozano says. “The cool thing about ‘Real Women, Real Bodies’ is that it gives young women a chance to challenge people’s world views.”
The first photo shoot featured 11 silhouetted nude women, with a total of 22 posters printed. Stein took on the responsibility of making the models feel comfortable, relaxed and laughing during the photo shoot. All participants were volunteers interested in the “Real Women, Real Bodies” mission, Stein says. The photographs were taken by Stein, Looney and King.
The finished product has gained national and international recognition. Cosmopolitan, the international magazine for women that is based in the United States, carried the story in its Germany edition earlier this semester.
Since its inception, “Real Women, Real Bodies” has hosted several events and speakers on campus. Earlier this semester, the organization teamed up with an academic organization for “Frolicking in Frat Mall,” an active program of socializing and games. In the spring, the organization hosted speakers to discuss self-esteem issues. And last month, “Real Women, Real Bodies” members helped with the UW Women’s Leadership Conference.
The state that first gave women the right to vote is continuing the tradition of pioneering women with the “Real Women, Real Bodies” campaign, organizers like to say.
For more information about the club, visit www.facebook.com/RealWomenRealBodies.