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Communication Studies Students Campaign for Body Acceptance

Posted Dec. 13, 2013

By Victoria Humphreys

Students in the Communication and Influence class taught by James Ponder, Ph.D. sought to bring a positive message to college students through a campaign to boost positive thinking and self-esteem as part of the Kent State University student organization, Body Acceptance Movement (BAM).

"Love yourself for everything you are," and "You are beautiful," are examples of positive messages posted in Kent State women's bathrooms across campus. The handwritten messages on blue notes promoted the goal of boosting confidence and bringing smiles to viewers' faces .

"In this media driven society where women and (sometimes) men are scrutinized for how they look and how much they weigh, we need more organizations like the BAM," Jen Fortuna, senior organizational communication major said. "We worked really hard to promote BAM and tried to turn the issue of body acceptance around to make girls and women feel comfortable in their own skin again."

Each semester, students in the Communication and Influence class must conduct a campaign to make an impact on a population in an identifiable way. Fortuna and her teammates Amanda Schroeder, senior interpersonal communication major, Olivia Rusnak, senior health communication major, and Brianna Hedley, junior public communication major, partnered with student organizations to increase BAM membership and increase BAM's social media presence and followers on Twitter.

BAM strives to educate, guide and support members of the campus and the community toward a lifestyle of body acceptance. The team had to apply concepts and theories they learned in class to develop a plan that will influence others to join the movement. Fortuna said that her team used these techniques to enlist the help of student organizations, choose the audience, the color of the post-it notes, social media and visual persuasion techniques.

"One of the main tasks that we took on this semester was taking over BAM's Twitter account," Fortuna said. "We began tweeting positive messages daily to make BAM's followers feel appreciated and loved."

The team also posted blue sticky notes in women's restrooms around campus with BAM's Twitter handle that showed positive messages such as "Beauty isn't a size," "You are beautiful," and "Love yourself" to reflect the messages tweeted. The campaign increased BAM's followers from 67 to 242.

"These students used an idea from a previous influence campaign called #Simplenotes, and connected it to a student organization," Ponder said. "In doing so, they were able to help increase the organization's membership and develop a campaign designed to help people going through a very difficult issue."

Ponder said he was excited to see how the team applied the theories and concepts in a practical way.

"I was surprised at the thoughtfulness behind every decision they made and how well informed they were about the decisions they were making," Ponder said.

Fortuna said they were intimidated by the amount of work that they had to do at the start of the semester.  However, because the campaign benefitted Kent State students and helped her group gain a deeper understanding of the courses concepts, the work was worth it.

"I feel more confident walking away from their class with knowledge that will stay with me for a long time," Fortuna said. "By applying these concepts continuously throughout the semester, I have a better understanding of them and will remember, and perhaps apply them again, later in my life."

BAM meets every other Monday in room 313 in the Kent Student Center. For more information about BAM, follow them on Twitter at @KentBAM.