While body image issues play a major role in today’s society, junior Chelsea Carlisle decided to do something about it at Franklin College. By creating Project S.E.L.F., Founder and President Carlisle wanted to help women who struggle with self-esteem and body weight issues based off of what society dictates as beautiful.
In high school, Carlisle struggled with body issues, and she knew other women were facing them, too. She said she always wanted to start an organization in high school that would help these women cope with the issues they were dealing with, but found she didn’t have the time to fully commit to such a responsibility.
Once Carlisle came to college, she realized the issues she and others struggled with didn’t go away; if anything, they only grew deeper. Wanting to get involved, Carlisle started a four-month-long process to create her dream organization, Project S.E.L.F., established in March 2011. Project S.E.L.F. stands for Strong, Excellent, Loving and Fearless. “The purpose of Project S.E.L.F is to act as a support group that empowers women and helps them to realize that the differences and flaws (or imperfections) every women may feel she has, is what makes her an original,” Carlisle said.
Project S.E.L.F. holds bi-weekly meetings with activities that help reinforce that every woman is unique in herself. Group discussion on topics such as Media Literacy I and II: How the Media Effects our Self Esteem, and self created activities are all ways Carlisle helps women realize the beauty within themselves.
Project S.E.L.F.’s kick-off event was Smashing of the Weight Scales, a literal smashing of weight scales with hammers. “This event set the tone to tell everyone that [women] are not chained to the scale anymore. We’re not going to be defined by our jean size anymore, we’re going to be who we are,” Carlisle said. With this event, Project S.E.L.F. wanted to show women that obsessing over your weight isn’t healthy and prompted breaking free of the scale by making healthy lifestyle choices.
“This is a women’s organization but not a feminist group [we do not discuss feminism]. Any woman is welcome to our meetings and events, it just takes you to step out of your comfort zone and attend. We create a safe, positive environment for our members with no negativity allowed,” Carlisle said.