By Lauren Docktor
Millions of college-aged women throughout the country struggle with poor self-esteem and issues with body image that are perpetrated throughout media outlets and even within friend groups.
This perpetration of negative ideals is something that senior comprehensive science major and Delta Delta Delta member Anna Riverso is trying to combat.
Riverso is currently a national ambassador for the Delta Delta Delta fraternity’s new initiative, launching in October, which focuses on cultivating a positive body image among its chapter members.
The Delta Delta Delta program was previously entitled “Reflections,” and primarily concentrated on the “Fat Talk Free” platform.
The Fat Talk Free national campaign encourages healthy discussion among women and aims to eliminate “fat talk” from their vocabulary, as it only compounds negative self-esteem.
This October, the fraternity will debut the new BodyImage 3D—mind, body, spirit—program that expands upon the preexisting platform.
Previously, many chapters had difficulty maintaining the program throughout the year as much of it focused solely around one nationally-designated Fat Talk Free week in October.
BodyImage 3D will include monthly components designed to ensure that the idea is not simply a short-term focus, but rather a lifestyle change.
“It’s a revamp of the whole idea,” Riverso says. “Sisters go through training on how to get rid of fat talk and how to view choices differently regarding body images.”
Body Image 3D focuses on helping young women realize that they should not pursue the thin ideal that is often reflected in the media and society but rather focus on being healthy.
“Healthy looks different for everyone. The program focuses on promoting health versus appearance,” Riverso says. “Happiness does not come from being thin.”
The new program also does not solely focus on physical features.
It expands upon the idea of health in different facets of life through the mind, body and spirit by creating monthly themes and challenges designed to strengthen confidence and healthy body images. For example, February has the theme of engaging in activities that make sisters’ hearts happy.
This innovative approach to addressing body image prompted Riverso to apply to become a national ambassador for the BodyImage 3D campaign this past spring.
As the body image coordinator for the University’s Delta Delta Delta chapter last year, Riverso saw this position as a unique opportunity to further help women develop a better body image.
Riverso submitted a one-minute YouTube video detailing her interest and how she identified with the principles of the program, and was selected to be a BodyImage 3D ambassador along with four other Delta Delta Deltas from chapters at University of Michigan, Creighton University, University of Nebraska at Lincoln and James Madison University.
The five women met in Texas this past May to create video material, pose for a photo shoot and receive press release training to implement throughout their year as representatives.
“The ambassadors put a face to the campaign and show that you can actually be happy and successful while still being healthy,” Riverso says.
Each month, the five ambassadors will be able to tweet, send releases to chapters nationwide and appear in both the fraternity newsletter and social media sites.
In addition, their video responses to the monthly challenges proposed by the BodyImage 3D campaign will be shown to the 138 collegiate chapters, composed of 13,664 women, as examples and motivation.
Lauren McCarthy, a BodyImage 3D ambassador who attends the University of Michigan, finds the program’s message and the ambassadors’ tasks extremely relevant and necessary in today’s intense society.
“Growing up, I struggled coping with a severe case of an invasive skin disease called psoriasis and the experience taught me a lot about self-worth and valuing your own body image for what it is,” McCarthy says. “I love being able to use that experience…and helping girls realize the importance of health, both physically and mentally, and reminding them that the happiest girls are the prettiest—inside and out.”
Riverso also believes in the importance of portraying positive examples of women who do not rely on the ideals in society regarding body image and weight.
“It shows girls different ways to think, ways to have fun, be successful and happy,” Riverso says. “It shifts focus onto what is really important versus what society tells us about what weight is important.”
The program, however, is an evolving campaign, notes fellow 3D ambassador Allie Waller from James Madison University.
“This will be a learning process for me. Ever since I took the Fat Talk Free Pledge, I’ve learned to love myself more and more everyday. It’s a journey and I’m so excited to see what’s in store for Delta Delta Delta,” Waller says.
The outreach potential of BodyImage 3D is inspiring to each ambassadors because of the impact that their work could have on young women.
“I‘m beyond grateful to be one of the five ambassadors for Delta Delta Delta. Healthy body image is something I’ve always been passionate about,” Waller says. “I’ve loved getting involved in Delta Delta Delta’s Fat Talk Free Week and Reflection’s Program, and now being an ambassador really gives me something to stand for.”
This was also one of the driving factors in Riverso’s decision to become so heavily involved in the cause.
Her discovery of how widespread and serious the issue of unhealthy body image is among women, coupled with the unique position of influence that ambassadors have has only enhanced her ability to make an impact with this issue.
This realization has even altered her career plans.
“I always knew I wanted to be pre-med, but the more I did with this, the more I realized there is a big need, and now I want to be a dietician and help girls with poor self-esteem,” Riverso says. “As soon as I realized I could change one person’s life, it was motivation enough to try for 1,000 more.”