Senior Tashana Smith smiles radiantly in sweatpants and a UMKC t-shirt as she poses with a sign that exclaims, “I am voluptuous enough!”
Smith is just one of the dozens of students and faculty members who have stopped by the Women’s Center I Am Enough Campaign and decided to make a positive declaration in honor of Love Your Body Day. The scene outside the cafeteria this Oct. 15th features brightly doodled name tags offering sayings: “I am thin enough,” “I am sassy enough,” and “I am more than enough.” Visitors also amble by to pick up self-confidence and stress management resources.
“It just made me think more about positive things that I can say about myself,” Smith reflects, “and things that I love about myself.”
This positivity and revolutionary transformation of self-talk stands out as a crucial movement on college campuses today. According to 2011 research from the National Eating Disorders Association, the percentage of college students with eating disorders skyrocketed to 25% of males (compared to a previous 7.9%) and 32.6% of women (compared to a previous 23.4%) over a 13-year period. Similarly, recent data from the American Psychological Association estimates that 41.6 of students suffer from anxiety, and 36.4 percent grapple with depression.
Danielle Lyons, who holds a work-study position with the Women’s Center, identifies what she sees as factors perpetuating these high numbers.
“I think that college in general is just a new experience, a new pace, and a lot of stress,” Lyons says, “and I think that a lot of people are usually away from home for the first time. That causes a lot of insecurity.”
Despite the prevalence of insecurity, the I Am Enough Campaign reveals how diverse doubts can be. Students hold up signs proclaiming, “I am curvy enough,” “I am cool enough,” “I am healthy enough,” “I am tall enough,” and “I am accomplished enough.”
The ways in which individuals cope with and calm these insecurities can vary vastly. Lyons finds solace in counseling and self-care. Smith, meanwhile, uses a different tactic.
“I look in the mirror,” she says, “and I write positive [messages] on my mirror.”
People can also focus on their best qualities in order to counter negative comments. Lyons praises her kindness, while Smith admires her approachability.
The I Am Enough Campaign aims to bring these positive characteristics to the forefront.
“It’s a good campaign for people to acknowledge themselves and how they feel about themselves,” Smith says.
Stop by the UMKC Women’s Center in Haag Hall to learn more about building self-confidence.