Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Media spotlight shines on OU-C student Samm Newman’s body-image campaign

By public relations student writer Megan Valentine

Samm Newman, a 19-year-old OU-C student, recently garnered the attention of the media on an international level.

Her account on Instagram, a photo-sharing application, was shut down by the service for an apparent violation of its community guidelines after she posted a photo on July 12 in her bra and underwear.

Newman, a Chillicothe High School graduate who is entering her sophomore year as a sociology major at OU-C, posted the photo as part of a body-positive movement to promote acceptance of women’s natural figures. She believes that her weight played a factor in the action taken by Instagram.

After the photo was deleted and her account shut down, she began flagging photos of women who she felt were dressed more provocatively in an attempt to prove the double standard.

“Initially, I was really devastated and went to bed crying,” stated Newman in one interview. “The next morning, I saw that all of the photos we reported were still there. That’s when I was like, ‘OK, now I’m angry.’ ”

Following failed attempts to contact Instagram, Newman reached out to various news outlets around the state. Her story went viral and the company ultimately made the following statement to The Huffington Post:

“We are truly sorry for our mistake here. When reviewing reported content from the Instagram community, we do not always get it right and we wrongly removed an account. As soon as we were made aware, we reactivated the account and restored the content.”

Newman’s account reached more than 6,000 followers in the week following the incident.

“I have been overwhelmed with messages from people standing in solidarity and support, many of whom have felt many of the emotions I have growing up,” said Newman of the feedback she has received following the incident. “The need for people of all sizes, shapes, and colors to be visible is so evident, and this entire experience has only inspired me to continue loving my body and encouraging others to love their own.”

“I didn't expect to reach so many people, and I certainly never expected for my story to inspire other people the way it has,” added Newman of the experience. “I am giving people hope and advice, and I truly hope that it changes the way they see and treat their bodies.”

This has been a learning experience for the OU-C student, and she looks to impact others with the insights she has gained.

“I have learned that body-positivity is something that many people struggle with every day. Even though there are obvious negative reactions to my story, I've found that it reached all of the right people,” Newman said.

“Maybe, someday, after having a family, I will become a professor at OU and teach others sociology, which is where my whole heart is right now. I want to empower other people and advocate for those in need,” she said.

Newman plans to continue her college career by relocating to the Athens campus of Ohio University and may expand her academic pursuits to include a double major in sociology as well as women’s and gender studies.

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