“I am not what people expect me to be,” said Savannah Mahaffey, a junior studying sociology.
Mahaffey takes her knowledge of culture and social programs outside of the classroom with her involvement in social movements such as “It’s okay to not be okay.”
“Culture plays a huge part of this campus and the situation that we are in, and there is nothing wrong with that. I didn’t come here to fit in,” Mahaffey said. “Sometimes the people around you can make you feel like there is a correct way to live and be and follow. I’m sorry; there is no correct way to be, and the only one that I am following is God.”
Growing up, Mahaffey was subject to negative comments about her hair and body type. As a result, Mahaffey is now passionate about body positivity and self-love. She said that in her experience, judgment is no longer used for its intended purpose of making a judgment call, but is now used for judging the qualities of others.
“I feel like we are not building each other up. Even if we don’t care what people think, we keep to ourselves,” Mahaffey said. “We are not trying to build up the person sitting next to us or fuel their fire.”
While she used to take the negative statements to heart, she now takes a new outlook on judgment.
“A compliment is a positive judgment,” Mahaffey said. “I was focusing so much on being judged negatively, but then I just stopped caring and (started) focusing on the positive judgments.”
Mahaffey said this paradigm shift is what has transformed her into the outspoken person she is and given her the spunky, bold personality and style that she now possesses.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I love my body, so I want to put stuff on it that shows that I love it,” Mahaffey said. “You’re not really supposed to have rainbows in the middle of winter, but I have rainbows in the middle of winter.”
As she has continued to stand up and stand out, Mahaffey said her favorite way to advocate for body positivity and self-love is to live it herself. She hopes that by doing this, she will be able to fuel the fires of those around her and help others to realize that everyone can make a difference in at least one other person’s life.
Mahaffey said, “There are always going to be those negative nay-says that want to tell you their negative judgments about you, and they can shove it.”