Pennie Lome, Alpha Upsilon—Bradley, experienced weight-based discrimination and appearance hate for much of her life. The constant bullying from peers in school and over social media ruined the things Pennie loved about herself and felt confident about.
Upon starting college, Pennie was interested in joining a sorority but wasn’t sure if she would be invited to join one or accepted.
“I knew that I wanted to be in a sorority, but I went back and forth on it,” she said. “I was convinced that because I’m a bigger girl I wouldn’t get into a sorority because I didn’t look like the sorority girls I saw in movies.”
Pennie went through recruitment at a time many campuses were doing hybrid recruitments and recalled how she prepared for the first, virtual round of recruitment.
“What I did was really silly, but I dressed in a baggy dress on the first day of recruitment. It was a Zoom call, so I positioned the camera in an angle that I didn’t really look like myself,” she said. “I spoke like myself and acted like myself, but I felt like I was not being my true self.”
Pennie was invited back to the Sigma Delta Tau chapter for the in-person rounds and said immediately upon entering, she felt welcomed and accepted by the sisters of SDT.
“I saw how diverse our house was and there were plenty of people who looked like me that I had nothing to worry about—I felt right at home.”
Being in a sorority helped Pennie find a close-knit group of friends, where she said she had previously had a hard time forming close connections with people. The friendships she found in SDT have given her the confidence to pursue new opportunities like leadership roles in the chapter. She also had the support of her sisters during her most recent endeavor with Dove Beauty.
Seeing a casting call for teenagers with experiences of body dissatisfaction and discrimination to be part of Dove’s Real Cost of Beauty Campaign, Pennie submitted her story and was selected to be a participant in the campaign that aims to shift the narrative around societal standards of beauty. Click the video link below to hear Pennie’s story.
Pennie shared that during filming when she felt nervous or after the video was released and she shared it on social media, she always had sisters by her side cheering her on.
“I don’t think I’d be able to be as confident as I was without sisters backing me,” she said. “Every hardship I face, I have people supporting me. If 13-year-old me, who was being severely bullied based on how I looked, saw my friend group today and the people supporting me, she’d be in disbelief. I just feel really grateful for Sigma Delta Tau.”
Pennie aspires to become a physical therapist, but she is also pursuing opportunities to use her experience to support others. She’s been asked to share her story and talk about body positivity and the impacts of bullying with elementary and middle school students, which she says is of high interest to her because that’s the age she began to be bullied.
To anyone experiencing appearance hate, Pennie says to know you are not alone and there is still work to do to change societal norms.
“The whole Dove project really spoke to me because it talks about how dangerous societal beauty standards can be and how people change themselves to meet stereotypes, but we should be changing stereotypes to be more inclusive,” she said. “Don’t change yourself based on media or anything else. Be confident in who you are and in your own skin. “
Special thanks to Pennie for sharing her experience with us and to Dove for allowing us to reshare this content. To see more content in the Real Cost of Beauty Campaign click here or follow Dove on Instagram @dove.