Leave body issues behind and 'come as you are'

The founders also hope to show that societal standards of beauty are arbitrary

· February 25, 2014, 12:50 pm   ·  Updated March 5, 2014, 8:01 pm

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Ying Pan | DP

College Freshman Emily Fisher poses at a Penn Poised photoshoot, with the message “I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul” written on her body as part of a the Poised: Come As You Are campaign promoting body positivity


A recent study published in the Journal of Women & Aging found that only 12 percent of women are satisfied with their body image. 88 percent of women surveyed were in the normal weight range.

Penn Poised, a student organization on campus, started ‘Come As You Are’, a photography cam paign hoping to stimulate conversations on campus about the pervasiveness of body image problems. They took photos of students of all genders who had written about their physical insecurities on their bodies and posted them to a Tumblr account.

“Body image concerns are a pretty common occurrence but it’s something that’s generally tabooed to talk about,” said Laura MacKinnon, a senior in Engineering and a co-founder of Penn Poised. “I want people to get that it’s a universal thing that we deal with.”

“I walk by Pottruck and hear someone say ‘gotta burn off that piece of cake,’” she added.

The Come As You Are campaign is modeled after photographer Steve Rosenfield’s “What I Be” project. Rosenfield’s subjects wrote on their bodies about the insecurities - ranging from abandonment to career to substance abuse - they seek to overcome.

“Subjects are putting their insecurities out in the open and exposing a side of themselves that nobody has seen before,” Rosenfield wrote of his project “By stating ‘I am not my _____,’ they are claiming that they do in fact struggle with these issues, but it does not define who they are as a person. ”

The coordinators already uploaded some photos of themselves on the blog as a starting point for the campaign, with phrases like “Suck it in,” and “Piece of ass,” written on their body parts.

The founders also hope to celebrate the unique beauty of each person over conformity to societal standards of beauty.

“[Body image] is just arbitrary,” Brianna Krejci, a College freshman and co-founder of Penn Poised, said . “Even so, everybody is expected to be working toward that image.” She pointed out that while Americans tan their skin, Thais often whiten theirs.

The campaign received more attention than the founders expected, with around 20 people volunteering for the photo shoot.

As a recently founded group, Penn Poised intends to continue shedding light on body image problems on campus.

“We’re all part of the problem and the solution,” MacKinnon said.

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