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Stacy Nadeau Comes to Colgate

In a celebration of real beauty and identifying our own ‘healthy self’, Project Beauty, Shaw Wellness Institute, and Colgate’s Counseling Center brought Dove Real Beauty Campaign spokeswoman Stacy Nadeau to campus on February 24th. Nadeau was discovered while walking to work from her dormitory at Depaul University in 2005 as part of a “Real Women” campaign launched by Dove that encouraged real, un-retouched women to embrace their beauty and feel confident in themselves. While she was initially apprehensive to the idea of posing in her underwear, she pushed aside her hesitations and joined the movement that would revolutionize the world of advertising and the way women viewed their bodies. In a matter of months, Nadeau and the 6 other ‘Dove Girls’ became a nationwide symbol advocating for a more healthy conversation on body image and public perception of beauty.

In her keynote presentation, Nadeau discussed the unhealthy perception of beauty based on what we see in the media. Models are not only retouched and airbrushed, but have specific parts of their body combined with one another to create an unrealistic image of a ‘perfect’ person. Advertisements portray the impossible, an image that becomes more ingrained in our heads each time we see it. These ads create such a narrow, stereotypical definition of beauty that it’s impossible to fit oneself into these constraints. Nadeau referenced the body image issues she faced growing up when she was unable to shop at the same stores as her middle school friends due to having a different body shape. She pointed out that when we don’t fit into clothes or look the way women do in advertisements, we assume that the problem is with ourselves and not with the unrealistic expectations that the advertisements place. In contrast, the Dove “Real Women” campaign embraces the fact that women’s body types are all completely different and all beautiful. The reaction was overwhelming, as women came forward to share their own body-positive statements and join the conversation on finding a healthy sense of self.

Eleven years after the launch of the “Real Women” campaign women across the country, particularly on college campuses, still aren’t able to break the habit of negativity towards their bodies. Nadeau shared the startling statistic from Dove’s 2005 survey, stating that only 2% of women surveyed would feel comfortable calling themselves beautiful. The survey was repeated last year, with only a 2% improvement. However, this isn’t to say that Nadeau and other women like her aren’t making strides in the right direction. As she travels across the country speaking and writing to encourage women to feel beautiful and to redefine their narrow constraints of beauty, she aims to change the narrative of negative ‘body shaming’ that women engage in. She pushes us to question why we have to focus so much on the things we dislike about ourselves, and realize the power that we have on our own college campus. As more and more women speak up against the negative conversations about our bodies, the power to change the narrative grows.

Nadeau’s presentation has started a conversation that cannot be silenced. By pushing women across the nation to embrace their unique beauty, she spreads a message of body positivity that will inspire more women to love their healthiest selves. 

I am a Political Science major writing for Colgate University.
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