by Janie Hannon
Led by counselor Dr. Nicole Noffsinger-Frazer and Hope Faulk (C’ 14), Sewanee recently launched its own body image campaign: Full-Embodiment: An Empowering Dialogue (FEED). Greek Life and the Women’s Center have combined to produce this program dedicated to the prevention and intervention of body dissatisfaction at Sewanee. It targets freshman women who have recently joined a sorority, as well as other freshmen women who would like to take part.
FEED replaces the Body Project, which operated the past two years. The Body Project was successful in educating women on eating disorders, but the leaders sought to focus it more towards Sewanee’s culture. While the Body Project focused primarily on preventing eating disorders, FEED is more concerned with the objectification theory, which works for the overall empowerment of women in addition to the aspirations of the Body Project. It is unique to have such a program on a college campus created and run internally. Because the program is specific to Sewanee, the leaders hope to focus directly on the self-esteem and relationship issues that run rampant at the University. By asking the hard questions about sexuality and body standards that exist on campus, FEED seeks to eliminate the barriers that surround these sensitive topics. Sarah High (C’15) summarizes the mission as empowering women for an “awareness of society, of Sewanee, and of themselves.” Faulk will pass the project along to High and Jaclyn Valadka (C’ 15) next year. The program is research based, collecting pre-tests and post-tests from the women in order to improve results for the coming years.
Faulk also hopes it can be produced for other college campuses in the future, because she recognizes that the issues covered are in no way completely unique to Sewanee. In each of the four sessions, FEED implements the same format as the Body Project, which focuses on small group discussions centered on these issues. The groups are lead by peer facilitators, who are upper-class women who have undergone extensive training. The peer facilitators provide discussion from a script drafted by Faulk after her research for the project this past summer. This year, there are nearly 200 freshmen women in the program and 38 peer facilitators. The sessions for this year are in progress and take place on Sunday afternoons.