MO State Gals

Missouri State sweatshirts, gently used textbooks and various pieces of wall décor find themselves posted in a Facebook group with nearly 11,000 members. So do recommendations for finding affordable therapists, managing heartbreak and living with eating disorders.

Created in 2016, Missouri State Gals Sell Your Stuff!!! is a private buy, sell and trade Facebook group for women in the Missouri State University community, including students, alumni and others who attended the university at one time.

Despite being a group of around 10,800, many members, such as alumna Macey Hurst, said they feel as if the group is a community.

Hurst said she has used the group to sell textbooks, request advice for where to buy tall slacks and meet potential new roommates.

“It’s a safe space for young women in the same stage of life to express concerns and seek feedback from others who may be in similar situations,” Hurst said. “It’s a great tool for communication, as a simple post can reach a huge population of women on campus.”

While posts selling name-brand clothing garner a lot of engagement, so do those where members discuss personal experiences.

A safe space to be vulnerable

Since the group’s creation, members have circulated posts about depression, anxiety, eating disorders, ADHD and other topics related to mental and physical health.

Earlier this year, a member posted concerns about a potential eating disorder, sharing her experiences while asking for advice.

Over 50 comments accumulated on the post. Members sympathized, shared similar stories and provided advice, such as seeking help from a mental health professional.

The Standard reached out to the member who made the original post but was unable to get in contact with her.

Alumna Jordan Seyer, a member of the group since 2016, said the give-and-receive nature of the group allows for a safe, open space.

“Part of it is seeing other people be vulnerable in the group,” Seyer said. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable posting a (personal topic) had I not seen somebody else post it first or post something similar.”

Holly Holladay, a media, journalism and film professor, is not a member of the group but said she is familiar with it.

Holladay described Missouri State Gals Sell Your Stuff!!! as a virtual community, a group of people sharing common interests and ideas via the internet. Virtual communities may have a particular purpose, but as relationships develop in these spaces, the purpose evolves. 

“What takes you to Missouri State Gals Sell Your Stuff!!! is being a woman at Missouri State and you’re looking to sell your stuff, but it just isn’t about ‘selling your stuff,’” Holladay said. “It’s about knowing the community is a lot bigger than that.”

Holladay said the mediated nature of the Facebook group may be what allows members to feel comfortable disclosing personal topics, such as birth control or gynecologist visits.

“It is a space where women can feel, in a lot of ways, safe to say things that are especially associated with being a woman,” Holladay said. “It is the scariest thing in the world to put (yourself) out there and not know what the response is going to be, but I’m not even a little bit surprised that the response is overwhelmingly positive (in the group),” Holladay said. 

Building friendships

Through the group, Seyer made a close internet friend she has never met in person but communicates with everyday.

It can be difficult to be vulnerable with strangers, but many freshmen, transfer students and recent singles use the group as a way to meet and make friends.

Seyer met Kelly Parmentier, senior psychology major, in December 2020. After deciding to return to school at Missouri State, Parmentier made a post in the group in search of new friends.

“I didn’t know anybody who lived (in Springfield), and Jordan commented on (my post) and said she would love to get to know me,” Parmentier said. “I got her Snapchat that day and ... we Snapchat almost every single day.”

Along with meeting Parmentier, Seyer has virtually met others who live in her apartment complex. Although she may not spend time with them, she said there is a peace of mind knowing the other women who live near her.

While Missouri State Gals Sell Your Stuff!!! provides a safe space for women to meet one another, it is not the only buy, sell and trade Facebook group available to the Missouri State community.

Missouri State Gals Sell Your Stuff!!! is one of many Facebook communities

In November 2020, Rachel Smith, senior sociology major, created the Springfield Gals and Pals Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook group. The group has about 650 members and is open to all genders in Springfield.

Smith said while Springfield Gals and Pals is oriented more toward the LGBTQ+ community, anyone is welcome to join.

“I thought that it would be a good opportunity in our current social climate to create a space that was specifically for gender-neutral and queer-oritentated language and topics,” Smith said. “One of the biggest points of the (group) is to allow folks who might not be used to using gender-neutral language an opportunity to practice and educate themselves on inclusive language.”

Seyer is also a member of the Springfield Gals and Pals group. She said she frequently sees people cross-posting between the two groups, whether it be selling or looking for advice.

“Both groups are wonderful and equally safe communities,” Seyer said.

A more narrowly focused Facebook group is CREATIVE FOLK OF MSU, a private group available for artists attending Missouri State.

The group, with about 215 members, was created in February 2020 by alumna Katelyn Betz. 

Different from Missouri State Gals Sell Your Stuff!!! and Springfield Gals and Pals, CREATIVE FOLK OF MSU is not a buy, sell and trade group. Instead, it is a space for creatives to network and collaborate.

“I made this Facebook (group) hoping people would post their Instagrams in it, so we could see each other’s work, post gallery showings, and share music and links to buy prints,” Betz said. “I made it, invited 20 people, and it grew from there. It was really dope to see people share each other’s stuff and get excited.”

While posts in the group may not be as personal or sensitive as those Missouri State Gals Sell Your Stuff!!!, CREATIVE FOLK OF MSU provides an atmosphere for artists, students and alumni, to discuss their experiences in the art community inside and outside of college.

“I think this group is important,” Betz said. “Sharing ideas and seeing what others are doing and lifting each other up is so important and vital to staying creative.”

Becoming a member

All three groups are private and moderated by admins.

To join Missouri State Gals Sell Your Stuff!!! potential members must be female-presenting, indicate they attend Missouri State on their Facebook profile and agree to the group’s rules.

The group has 10 rules, including no multi-level marketing or selling fake IDs, to respect everyone’s privacy, and to be kind and courteous. 

Those interested in joining Springfield Gals and Pals Buy/Sell/Trade must answer a few questions before being accepted and agree to the group’s nine rules, which are similar to those of Missouri State Gals Sell Your Stuff!!! 

Lastly, students interested in joining CREATIVE FOLK OF MSU should simply request access. Betz said she will accept anyone because she hopes the group will encourage students to be excited about art, even if they are not studying art at Missouri State.

 

Follow Greta Cross on Twitter, @gretacrossphoto

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Editor-in-Chief

Greta Cross is the Editor-in-Chief of The Standard. She is a junior studying journalism, photography, and anthropology. Greta joined The Standard in Jan. 2019 and served as the Digital Editor for the 2019-20 school year.