Meet Colleen Daly, our newest team member! Colleen's official title is Director of Media & Strategic Communications and you can read her official bio here, but there's a lot more to her than that.
End Rape on Campus (EROC): So Colleen, tell us a little about yourself!
Colleen: I was raised in Asheville, North Carolina -- an amazingly vibrant and social justice oriented community in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I am a Tar Heel born, bred, and graduated (Go Heels). I received my Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University in Chicago, where I learned about lots of important things like surviving a real winter and deep dish pizza. I am a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. The thing I love most in the world is going on a run in the woods. I am passionate about integrating positive body image into fitness and eating disorders recovery advocacy. I am a hopeless froyo addict, country music fan, and cyclist.
EROC: Can you tell us more about your work with body image and eating disorders?
C: Well, unfortunately, poor body image is extremely pervasive amongst essentially everyone who has a body. It has been shown time and time again that negative body image can lead to detrimental psychological outcomes. Eating disorders, too, are extremely prevalent, devastating forces that rob people not only of their physical and mental health -- but their emotional and social well-being.
While there are a myriad of factors that contribute to these problems, the fitness industry has been HUGE in influencing poor body image -- which is particularly upsetting because physical vitality is an important and beautiful tool in promoting self efficacy, confidence, health and strength. Rather than reminding people that their bodies are capable of amazing things, we remind them that they have thunder thighs -- what kind of message does that send? I want to be a positive force in promoting positive body image, eating disorder recovery, and changing the conversation surrounding fitness.
When I was at Carolina, I worked with an amazing group of students and professionals to help found Embody Carolina -- an organization that helps prepare students to serve as compassionate and effective allies for those struggling with eating disorders. That experience was incredible, probably the most meaningful and formative of my life, and the students at Embody continue to do absolutely phenomenal things on campus. At Northwestern I worked with Renee Engeln, a phenomenal researcher in body image and media, to examine the effects of disparaging language in a fitness setting on participants. I hope to continue working in this area with EROC!
EROC: Speaking of, tell us, what brought you to EROC?
C: It’s simple. I want to be a part of ending sexual assault on college campuses. I met Annie and Andrea through UNC and was absolutely inspired by their dedication to support survivors and eradicate sexual assault on college campuses. The work EROC has done in conjunction with activists across the country is critically important, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. I hope that I can help continue reaching out to folks in a meaningful way.
EROC: What do you hope to accomplish in your position at EROC?
C: Well, Annie says it best when she says “we want to run ourselves out of business.” Personally, I want to help communicate our mission in a way that is accessible to different communities affected by our work. All too often, sexual assault is framed as an issue for one demographic, and I think that pigeon holes it in a way as a problem that they have to deal with solo. That’s not how social change works. Inclusive and relevant communication is really important to address (and tackle) rape culture.
I also want to continue to explore body image within the framework of sexual assault. I suspect just based on the conversations that I have had surrounding the issue, that there is a really important intersection there, but the literature is desperately lacking. Trauma has negative effects on body image. That is widely known. But the fact that sexual assault, in particular, isn’t being addressed is baffling to me. I hope that we can work with survivors and professionals to reinforce the message that their bodies are inherently worthy, powerful, and capable.
EROC: Tell us one fun fact about yourself. Any hidden talents?
C: Haha, well, in 2014 I rode my bicycle across the country, from Florida to California, with an organization called Bike and Build. It’s an organization that promotes both engagement in service and the affordable housing cause. My ride was the adventure of a lifetime, I can’t wait to do it again.
In terms of hidden talents, I have to brag on myself a little. I am a damn good pumpkin carver. Like, if I was ever forced into a talent show I would just sit in the corner and carve away. My family used to carve 300 pumpkins a year to benefit a charity in my hometown, and so I just grew up with it.
EROC: Can we see a picture?