A recent Western Illinois University alumna was inspired so much by her classes at WIU that she has created a new organization called Real Women of the Quad Cities to help women with their self-image.
Stephanie Hoover graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences in Fall 2013 after transferring from Scott Community College (SCC) to the WIU Quad Cities campus. In the midst of her studies at WIU, she continued taking classes at SCC and took on two internships and two independent studies.
Hoover was inspired and motivated to develop her organization from within her WIU classrooms. First, she watch a video from her gender and society class, called “Killing Us Softly 4” by Jean Kilbourne, which discussed how the media and society negatively affect women and their body image. The following fall, Hoover took a women’s health class, where she began to realize how accepting herself and others was a topic that needed attention. So, Hoover began to write her ideas on what could be done and how she was going to do it, which evolved into Real Women of the Quad Cities (later shortened to Real Women LLC).
The organization began with local women replicating photos of models and actresses who had been digitally altered.
“(This is) who we are told we are suppose to look like,” Hoover said.
The images were shared over a Facebook page Hoover created. Eventually, she began receiving many messages and page ‘likes,’ and she began to take names of women who wanted to model for the organization. Women were interested in blogging for the organization as well.
Hoover hired five local photographers to take pictures of women who had volunteered. The idea was to compare the images of what society says women should look like to how they actually are.
Assistant Professors Tammy Werner and Nancy Schaefer from the classes in which Hoover was inspired helped her create an independent study on body image for Spring 2013, which won first place at the Macomb campus Undergraduate Research Day in sociology.
Now, after graduating, Hoover has written a business plan and is pairing with Mando Murga, a former WIU business graduate, to apply for grants in hopes of renting an office and hiring staff.
Hoover is fulfilling her dream of being her own boss and plans to put her strong and personality to good use in standing up for the beliefs that she and others hold. She is currently editing her third book, which she won an award for from WIU in Spring 2012.
To learn more about Real Women of the Quad Cities, visit realwomenofthequadcities.com or visit the organization’s Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Real-Women-of-the-Quad-Cities/438737702829430.