By LAUREN GUSTAFSON
Nancy Redd, a host for HuffPost Live and former Miss America contestant, captivated an audience of all ages Monday, March 14 as the keynote speaker for the Women’s History Month celebration at the University of Mary Washington. “More people need to be on board with women helping women,” Redd said.
She stood at the podium in Lee Hall room 411 with a screen behind her, slides and images punctuated her discussion about body image. Her voice carried and the audience of men and women, students and adults stayed focused on every word she had to say.
Redd was one of the founding hosts of “Huffpost Live,” a live streaming network which won three consecutive Webby awards, the most recent being in 2015. She recently ended her time with “Huffpost Live” in February and will be publishing a book about pregnancy in 2017.
Redd, who was also nominated for the NAACP Image Award and the GLAAD Award, struggled with body issues herself, which is what led her to writing her two books “Body Drama” and “Diet Drama.” The advice she gave to students was to take something that you are good at or something you see as an issue and turn it into your business.
Her activism concerning body image began with protesting photoshop usage in magazines. When the Miss America pageant contestant kicked back her headshot because she did not photoshop it, she took it as a sign that something needed to change and that sign was solidified when she saw the photoshopped results of her first magazine cover. It looked nothing like her, Women’s World white washed her and used excessive photoshop and the photograph on the projector screen behind Redd did not resemble the woman standing at the podium, according to Redd.
Redd combated female stereotypes with humor but also acknowledged the devastating state of body issues throughout the world.
Senior psychology major Micaela DeAsis felt that Redd was a good choice for UMW’s Women’s History Month.
“She was a great pick for Women’s History Month,” DeAsis said. “I was impressed with her style and her life, she’s so young and a role model to young women, her confidence was inspiring.”
While sandwich boards were scattered across campus advertising Nancy Redd as the Women’s History Month keynote speaker, there was not much else advertising the various events that accompany Women’s History Month at UMW. This was noted by junior sociology major Perri McSpadden, who identifies as a feminist.
“UMW could have done more and advertised the events more. But then again, I’m never going to say ‘hey you know what, I’ve heard enough about women. I’m tired of hearing about women’s history,’” McSpadden said.
Before Nancy Redd took the podium, Gladys Jordan was awarded the Monroe Medal, a prestigious honor. The UMW website states that this is just the fourth time the medal has been awarded at UMW.
A statement released by the Board of Visitors states that they are honoring Gladys Jordan “in recognition of her perseverance to succeed in the face of discrimination and her lifelong commitment to education, social justice and equal opportunity.”
Gladys Jordan is only the second woman to be awarded the Monroe Medal and she is the first woman of color to receive it. President Hurley, the President’s Cabinet and members of the Board of Visitors, including Dr. Teresa Crawley, were present at the ceremony.
The ceremony and Redd’s presentation were the highlight of Women’s History Month at UMW. Both events showcased two women’s vast accomplishments and emphasized that while women’s rights have come a long way, there is more that could be done to progress the role of women in society.