College girl spreads the message of body positivity

By Megan Pettit and By Megan Pettit

Back in March 2016, a series of tweets were published by a college-aged girl that made many take a step back and think. With body shaming tweets attached, a girl posted a picture doing the exact opposite of what the shaming tweets suggested with the caption: “Girls: Wear whatever the hell you want.”  

    These tweets were posted by University senior and public relations student, Sara Petty.

Many people already know her as a confident, happy-go-lucky, positive person. However, she will be the first to tell you, she has not always been this confident in herself, or her body.

 “I had been over 200 pounds and was just really freaked out about it for a while,” she said.

 Because of this, she decided to join CHAARG, which stands for Changing Health, Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls. CHAARG is a women’s fitness group on campus.

 “I joined CHAARG in the second semester of my sophomore year,” Petty said. “Sophomore year, I realized I was gaining weight and didn’t have a lot of friends. I figured working out and meeting new people at the same time couldn’t be a bad thing.”

As she got more involved in CHAARG, Petty started to understand the message of positive body image, which is where she got the idea for the tweets.

“I had just finished a workout plan, and had lost eight pounds, and I still wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I was becoming more confident in myself. But then I started to see people on Twitter saying people shouldn’t wear things if they had a certain body type, and I wanted to prove that 200 pounds doesn’t look the same on everyone,” Petty said.

At 6 feet tall, and a little more confident, she decided to stand up for herself and hopefully other women who felt the same way.

“The point of it was to prove that people carry their weight differently, and that you shouldn’t be restricted on what you should wear based off a number because it doesn’t mean that much,” Petty said.

Petty also mentioned that the response was overwhelmingly positive — for the most part.

“Most of the response was very positive, I mean for every like 100 responses, there was one negative response, which was really nice to see,” she said.

Petty’s friends and the members of CHAARG were extremely supportive of her posts, including one of her best friends Rachel Boote, senior communication student.

“Sara and I met through CHAARG about a year ago,” Boote said. “When I saw Sara’s tweet, we were only acquaintances and I have gotten to know her a lot more since then, but it was really cool to see someone I was around and could relate to become viral.”

Boote also mentioned that she was proud of the way her friend and fellow member of CHAARG handled the sudden fame.

“I think a lot of people, when they become viral, they don’t know what to do with it. But I think Sara has taken on that role in a really cool way and has used it as an awesome platform especially in the CHAARG community,” she said.

Another big supporter of Petty is the CHAARG Ambassador and senior dietetics student, Marissa Flores. Flores believes Petty has learned a lot from her Twitter experience, mostly about herself.

“From this experience, I think Sara has grown to see that her body is capable of so many things and can constantly change. She has grown to really appreciate not only being comfortable in her own skin, but being able to appreciate all that her body can do as well,” Flores said.

Flores said Petty is not the only one who struggles with body positivity and explains why CHAARG is trying to change that.

“At CHAARG, we don’t care what you look like; we don’t care about what size you wear; we don’t care if you come with a group or by yourself; we just want you there,” she said. “We want CHAARG girls to feel how empowering it can be when you have a community of strong women cheering you on every step of the way.”

Petty said she has never felt more confident in herself or her body but is not stopping there.

“I really do love my body, and I am completely okay with where I am.  But I am still trying to lose weight,” she said. “It is all about being kind to yourself.”

After viral tweets, joining CHAARG and finally loving herself, Petty has one thing left to say to those struggling with their body image:

“Fake it until you make it. Every day, tell yourself that you love your body and speak nicely to yourself, and you will start to believe it,” she said.