With the amount of people being displeased with themselves and having low self-esteem increasing, the Second-year Public Relations and Corporate Communication students of the Department of Communication and Liberal Arts (DCLA) organised a self-love campaign titled ‘beYOUtiful’, from the 12th April 2018 to the 1st June 2018. ‘beYOUtiful’ campaign aimed to create awareness among students and staff of Sunway University on inner beauty, self-confidence and encourage the audiences to have self-acceptance.
According to Malay Mail (2017), the demand for certain plastic surgery procedures has grown almost 200% in the last few years alone. In addition, from querying 20 Malaysians between 25 and 40 years old, Malaysian Digest found that most have considered plastic surgery. These negative perceptions of body image has taken a toll on most people's self-esteem.
Media has set unrealistic standards for oneself, both physically and mentally. Only a select few body shapes and sizes are considered beautiful. Girls are indoctrinated at a very young age that ‘Barbie’ is how a woman is supposed to look like. Similarly, boys are given the impression that men naturally have clearly defined muscles all over their bodies. These media images and body criteria cause audiences to subconsciously compare themselves with these ideals, leading men and women to feel inadequate, dissatisfied or even ashamed with the way they look.
From a survey conducted by the ‘beYOUtiful’ Research and Evaluation Department among Sunway University and Sunway College students, only 9.8% of the students said they were very confident with themselves while 37.7% said they were neutral about being very confident. When asked if it was necessary to follow the latest trends in terms of fashion in order to fit in the society, over half (57.7%) felt it was necessary.
Hence, ‘beYOUtiful’ is a campaign that is created to promote self-love and acceptance of one’s self as well as challenge the unrealistic standards of beauty set by the media. The campaign included social media engagement on Facebook and Instagram, marketing promotion around campus, two events namely a booth day and a photo exhibition, and lastly a closing ceremony at Sunway University on the 1st of June 2018.
The first event was a one-day series of booths called ‘It’s a beYOUtiful Day’ on 4th of May 2018 from 10am to 4pm at Sunway College Boulevard. Firstly, the event consisted of “Mirrorless Day” where full-length mirrors at strategic washrooms was covered at both Sunway University and College campus. The audiences would then be led to three booths at the Boulevard, namely the information booth, the “Breaking Barriers” booth and the “Just Dance” booth. The information booth allowed the audience to gain information about the campaign and on-the-spot printed photo taking courtesy of Canon. These photos were then displayed during the next event -- the beYOUtiful photo exhibition. The purpose of the “Breaking Barriers Booth” was to encourage the participants to break free from their insecurities by punching a thin wooden plank with their insecurities written on it. Lastly, the “Just Dance” booth, allowed participants to express their inner talents for dancing freely without being judged.
The highlight of the campaign was the ‘beYOUtiful’ photo exhibition that was held for two days on the 24th and 25th of May 2018 at Sunway College Boulevard. Portraits taken previously during the first event and throughout the campaign period were on display. Passersby were able to give encouragement to individuals by sticking an emoticon or sticky note consisting of positive comments around their photo to boost their confidence. The aim was to show that everyone is beautiful in their own way without the help of photo editing or effects.
“I’m pleased to see that students have started to embrace their inner beauty and be comfortable in their own skin in ways such their dressing preferences. I believe that students and lecturers of Sunway College and University have started to know the importance of spreading self love among each other and will continue to do so!” said Kelsie Keah, the campaign director at her speech during the campaign’s closing ceremony. VIPs such as Professor Graeme Wilkinson (Vice Chancellor of Sunway University), Professor Donald William Bowyer (Dean of School of Arts and Acting Head of DCLA) and Ms Padma (Programme Chair of DCLA) were also invited as they gave inspiring speeches on their personal experiences of being in conflict with self-love.