Fort Hays State University students, faculty and staff held very still as Creative Arts Society members sketched them Thursday afternoon in the Black and Gold Room at FHSU’s Memorial Union.
“I Am Enough” is a new event hosted by the Women’s Leadership Project and was planned with the idea in mind to help those being drawn redefine their own perceptions of themselves, according to Kaiti Dinges, Women’s Leadership Project student coordinator.
Dinges said human beings, themselves, are their own worst critics.
“We want to explore and close the gap between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us,” she said. “We hope that students, faculty and staff will take away that they are unique, amazing, beautiful, and they are enough just the way they are.”
Janna Wilkinson, former student coordinator, came up with the idea after seeing a Dove Campaign for Real Beauty commercial, according to Dinges. Wilkinson then reached out to Joel Dugan, advisor of the Creative Arts Society, and together, they created “I Am Enough.”
“With the growth of social media, you see so much success and admiration take place, and it creates a really hollow feeling for our youth sometimes,” Dugan said.
“The ability to say, ‘You’re important enough, and we want to interpret your beauty through the act of drawing and capture that” — I think it is quite supportive for them.”
Six artists sketched approximately 30 volunteers — each “model” sitting in place for approximately 30 minutes. Afterward, the finished portraits were displayed for everyone to see.
Justin Greenleaf, assistant professor of Leadership Studies, was one of the first to be sketched.
“As a culture, no matter if you’re a man or a woman, we struggle with our self image — the way people tell us we should be in comparison to other people,” he said. “I think this event is one small step toward breaking down those barriers.”
While sketches were taking place, others visited activity tables, which included a photo booth, tips on how to increase self-confidence, how to make self-care a priority, and how to rid oneself of negative thoughts.
The overall experience was designed to be an impactful one, according to Dinges, who said it allowed individuals the opportunity to see what they look like through someone else’s eyes.
“We truly are our worst critics, and it is refreshing to know others see us as beautiful and unique,” she said. “All of us, as human beings, are enough — just the way we are.”