“I’m too fat.”
“I’m too thin.”
“I’m so small compared to the other guys.”
Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve made comments like these before. Maybe your friends have made comments like these before. Either way, negative comments about one’s bodies are all too common in today’s society.
It’s incredibly easy to get wrapped up in your peers’ appearances and compare yourself to them, especially in college. In fact, 91% of female college students have attempted to control their weight through dieting1. Further, “data from one college over a 13 year period shows total eating disorders increased from 23 to 32% among females and from 7.9 to 25% among males.”2
We are lucky that more and more resources are becoming available to people who suffer with eating disorders. Similarly, more and more people are coming forward to share their struggles with disordered eating in an effort to prevent others from going down the same path. Enter, Shreeya Tuladhar.
Shreeya is a student at Stony Brook University, and the founder of Project BEaUtifull, a non-profit organization that has one simple message: You are you. You are beautiful.
What started as a class assignment has quickly turned something much, much more. I got to talk to Shreeya about Project BEaUtifull and I’ve got to say, it’s pretty amazing. What I love most about our Fit University community is having inspiring students like Shreeya on our team, who are going out and creating their own movements towards healthy living. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a student take something that they’re passionate about and using it to help other students just like themselves.
Read the interview with Shreeya below!
Fit U: What is Project BEaUtifull?
Project BEaUtifull is a movement that focuses on the idea that being beautiful doesn’t come with standards… being beautiful is about you. It’s a platform for people [who struggle with body image and eating disorders] that have nobody to turn to, and a place where people can help one another. With the help of social media accounts, our non-profit organization aims to spread our message (by video projects on YouTube), let other people’s voices be heard (through submissions of stories on Tumblr), and advocate self-love (with featured pictures on Instagram and positivity on Facebook Page).
Our motto is, “be true, be you.”
Fit U: How did you come up with the idea for it?
I never meant for Project BEaUtifull to be an organization, it just sort of happened that way!
Last spring (April 2015), the final project for my Personal Essay class was to write about something that had impacted my life the most. The one thing that came to mind was my body image issues and unhealthy habits related to it.
I grew up as a performer and dancer in Nepal and always struggled to love myself fully because of it. My choreographers would say, “this move would look good on you if you lost weight!” It didn’t’ stop there though – being bullied about being “too skinny” when moving to the USA, the constant idea of “beauty” seen on TV, and the comparison made between friends and families made me believe that my weight was how people measured my self worth.
As I got older, I would hide my disorder from doctors and was able to pass as being anemic. By the time I got to college (September 2014), I was in complete denial… I would eat salad three times a day and think I was eating a lot. My sophomore year (January 2015), I threw up blood after dinner one night because my body could not handle digesting any regular food. That’s when I realized I needed help. I wanted to be a doctor, and how could I preach healthy living but not be living healthy myself?
I called my therapist and together, we started working on my recovery. It was four months into therapy when I got my assignment for my Personal Essay class and so, Project BEaUtifull was born. I wrote a paper and made a video, and when I presented it to my class, my classmates all encouraged me to make it larger than just a class project. Here’s the video below.
The writing office at Stony Brook University asked to feature me and I initially refused. But over the summer, I thought about it more and came back to school ready to open up to my friends. They were extremely supportive and wanted to help spread the message of Project BEaUtifull.
We created a team and have been working together on spreading Project BEaUtifull across Stony Brook’s campus and beyond that, too!
Fit U: What are you hoping to accomplish with Project BEaUtifull?
Our biggest goal is to raise awareness about body image issues. There is such a stigma against mental disorders and we want to create a supportive community for people of all ages and identities. We want to continue making positive videos to spread the love, feature stories on various struggles and overcoming them on our Tumblr, and use our Instagram and Facebook page to allow others to share their pictures!
We also want to educate people to love themselves. It’s so important to teach others how to have an active & healthy lifestyle [and self love is a huge aspect of that healthy lifestyle!], and by teaming up with Fit University, we hope to be able to spread the message of being fit in all aspects of your life – spiritually, mentally, and physically.
True love is great, but self-love is better.
Fit U: What issues do you see with body confidence on college campuses and how can Project BEaUtifull help?
In college, there are so many people from so many different places on campus. Everyone is chasing their own dreams and at the end of the day, chasing perfection. It’s so easy compare yourself to other people on campus and try to compete with them; but we should strive to be better than ourselves, not anyone else.
Ideas of beauty shouldn’t be based on how you look, but on what you do. Project BEaUtifull helps people realize that.
Fit U: If you could give one piece of advice to college students about their self worth, what would it be?
Beauty comes from within you. Love yourself first.
Want to learn more about Project BEaUtifull? Like them on Facebook and share this page with your friends! You can reach Shreeya and the rest of the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submit your stories on Tumblr, and share a picture and personal story to be featured on Instagram and Facebook.