“My Body, My Power”: A Learning Process

The WCC, in collaboration with Cardinal Council, Cardinal RHED, and Students Supporting Body Positivity, created the “My Body, My Power” social media campaign to promote healthy body image during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (Feb 21-27). This campaign, designed in the “Humans of NY” style, features Stanford student athletes discussing how they value their bodies in the context of athletics. You can check out the campaign on the Cardinal Council Instagram account @stanfordcardinalcouncil and Cardinal Council Facebook.

The Vision

This campaign was part of my intern project. As a member of the Stanford Track and Field team, I have noticed that body image is a prominent issue in the student athlete community. From dealing with worries about being too muscular (or not muscular enough) to facing pressure to maintain a particular power-to-weight ratio, student athletes confront unique stressors that may render them susceptible to body image insecurities. I wanted to create a campaign that addressed this issue in a powerful, intimate way. When I thought of previous campaigns that had captured this intimacy, “Humans of NY” came to mind. I love how each image-quote pair, albeit quite simple, tells a poignant story.  I decided to model the “My Body, My Power” campaign in the same style.

The Process

I thought that organizing the campaign would be relatively straightforward. After all, I just needed a few quotes, some photos, and an Instagram account. As it turned out, creating an effective, thoughtful campaign was much more complex than I had initially imagined. It required finding a social media platform that would provide high visibility. I needed to get approval from the Athletic Department and check NCAA guidelines for athlete participation. I wanted to incorporate diverse perspectives into the campaign.  Most importantly, I had to frame the campaign in a way that was sensitive and thoughtful. This was the most challenging task.

Collaboration with various staff and student groups proved to be the best way to accomplish these goals. Once assembled, our team brainstormed numerous questions. Should we include both males and females? Should we tell stories of struggle and resilience, or focus more on athletes’ appreciation of their bodies? After meeting with Kelli Moran-Miller, a Stanford Sports Medicine psychologist, and Kristen Gravani, a Stanford Sports Medicine dietitian, we decided to create a campaign that focused on the merits of body function. We wanted to feature athletes who valued what their bodies could do, rather than what their bodies looked like. The end product was a celebration of the body among males and females alike. Kelli, Kristen, and our team reviewed each quote to ensure that it fit within our framework.

Lessons Learned

Overall, this was an immensely rewarding process. I became more sensitive to the nuances of language surrounding body image. I learned about the organization and coordination required to create an effective campaign. Kelli and Kristen illuminated methods and thought processes that can be powerful in promoting healthy body image. However, the most rewarding part of all was hearing feedback from student athletes. Many told me that they had felt inspired by the campaign, that it had prompted them to reevaluate the way they view their bodies. This had been the goal all along. It was incredible to see our digital campaign produce tangible results.
md_Ashley Watson-08152015_NV_074.jpg

“My body has given me the confidence that I can do more than I ever thought I was ever capable of, and to me, that’s worth celebrating. If this complicated powerful machine that allows me to push my limits, reach my goals, and play the sport I love isn’t beautiful, than I don’t know what is.”

– Ashley Watson

Sophomore, Women’s Field Hockey

Photo Credit: Norbert von der Groeben/Isiphotos.com


Daryth Gayles, WCC Campus Outreach Intern


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