‘Project U’ fashion show builds self-esteem and loses criticism
Thirty-two Keene State College students walked down the runway and vocalized what they would never change about themselves. Substance Abuse Counselor Beth Mundahl said, “It’s really to kind of love the skin you’re in, our inner and outer beauty is to be appreciated.”
The Multicultural Center, Center for Health and Wellness, Counseling Center and Residential Life hosted the eighth annual Project U Fashion Show on Wednesday, April 3. The evening’s focus showed that everybody’s unique style matters.
Mundahl said that something they did a little differently this year compared to in the past is to talk about what people wouldn’t compromise about themselves, “For nothing or nobody.”
The counselor continued, “So the models are going up and giving a little bio and are showcasing what they want to hang onto, so that’s a twist this year,” Mundahl said.
Seniors Janel Haggerty and Equinox staff writer Brian Schnee hosted the event.
“[This evening] we’re going to help promote positive body image, self-confidence, and positive self-esteem,” Haggerty said.
Project U is run out of the Counseling Center with involvement from Residential Life, the Center for Health and Wellness, and the Multicultural Student Affairs Office.
Coordinator of First Year Residential Experience Nate Gordon explained Project U as an opportunity for someone to view themselves and ask what they’re willing to compromise.
“What are criticisms you have about yourself that you’re not willing to give up?” he asked, “So looking more realistically at yourself and the ways you can promote self-esteem or self value to make yourself feel good,” Gordon said.
Organizations such as Mentors in Violence Prevention, Student Dietetic Association, the Counseling Center and Project U set up tables encouraging students to partake in their activities that aimed to boost their self-esteem. The Counseling Center had a “Criticism Bank.”
Theresa Hoffman, intern at the Counseling Center, said, “It’s about how people go around saying bad things about themselves, so what we’re doing is we’re encouraging you to make a deposit in the criticism bank, so we’ll take your criticism so you don’t have to keep hanging onto it.”
At every table, students completed activities and received raffle tickets in order to win prizes to the Keene State College Bookstore and Fritz’s. The grand prize was tickets to a Boston Red Sox game.
Counseling Center staff member Brenda Esperanza said that Project U gives KSC students the opportunity to get to know themselves better on a deeper level, “And to try to resist the temptation to give into so many of the pressures to be like other people and sacrifice who you are,” Esperanza said.
Esperanza went on to say that society shapes the way we think we need to look, weigh, wear, the people we should be friends with and the people we should avoid befriending. She stressed, “That’s all false [what society says], none of that is true at all.”
“What we’re doing here tonight is to try to take the opportunity and not give into all of that and to ask the questions, why is someone else’s opinion and perspective of what beauty is and what’s good or bad, why is that more valuable than my own opinion on myself?” Esperanza said.
“Tonight is an opportunity for everyone to choose to let go of all of the self criticisms’ that you might be holding,” Esperanza added.
The models held hand-decorated signs stating the one thing that they would never compromise about themselves.
These included their morals, family, friends, mental strength and awesome personality.
Event attendee Alyse Coogan said, “I thought that it was really good just because it’s really helpful to see other people comfortable in their own skin and it actually gave me confidence in myself.”
Megan Grenier can be contacted at