Sunday, May 27, 2018

“Love Your Body” week encourages a positive campus climate



Every year Promoting Healthy Awareness of the Body (PHAB) hosts an entire week of events that encourage students to have a positive body image. The weeklong event, known as “Love Your Body Week”, which began on Friday, Feb. 21, was co-sponsored this year by the Health Center, Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC), Active Minds, the Psychology Department, Psychology Club, EROS, House of Peace, and IHouse.

Co-coordinator of PHAB Mia Schulman ’14 stated the importance of this event: “People deal with negative body image issues everywhere and Trinity is no exception. I have dealt, and still deal with negative self-messaging and many of my close friends have as well. In discussion around campus it is clear that this a problem run rampant and in PHAB we aim to address this among other issues.” Wanting to make an impact and aiming to give students the tools necessary to have a healthy body, PHAB planned a week of activities and discussion.

The week kicked off with an intense Zumba workout in the Ferris Unit D room. Upon arriving, students were handed water bottles from SHAC, which listed ways to love your body. Although only ten students attended, the instructor got everyone to move and enjoy themselves.

After a vitalizing workout, students headed over to Hamlin Hall for Paint Night. Melissa Richards, one of the organizers of the event says, “[We] really wanted to do something light, fun, interactive, and have students have something to take away.” With this in mind, Richards worked closely with Geralyn Gherard from the Health Center to put together an event that focused on relaxation.

Natalie Goff, the guest leader at the event, began the night by having students partake in some silly dancing. Students wiggled around, ran in circles, and let their bodies get loose. Afterwards, Goff began an exercise in mindful eating, which involved eating strawberries. Before biting the strawberry, Goff told students to “look at the strawberry closely. Feel it in your hand and smell it.” As students began to bite the strawberry she said, “Focus on the texture inside your mouth. Let it sit in your mouth and feel the taste.” The mindful eating, although different, helped get students in touch with their senses, which was important for the main exercise of the night.

As the name suggests, the highlight of Paint Night was engaging in expressive art. Hamlin Hall was full of tables with blank canvases waiting to be filled with color. The art tools were not limited to paint brushes. It included knives, sticks, and various rollers. With some soothing background music, students all got to work on their own art pieces. As Goff stated, it was important for students to “not think about what [they’re] painting but focus on the colors and the movements.” Each student expressed a different emotion on their canvas and happily took it home to display.

The week continued with Mirror Friendly Monday, a day that involved students putting up nice messages on various mirrors across campus. Richards states, “It was [an event] meant to change the relationship many people have with mirror and self image. Many times we may criticize our body, whether it’s us thinking we have a bad hair day, bags under our eyes…” This being said, students put messages that greeted others with phrases like “You’re amazing,” “Hey, good looking,” and “You are perfect just the way you are.” These positive body-image messages could really help to change someone’s day and get people to see themselves differently, even if for just those few moments. Along with this, a Love Your Body pictures table was displayed in Mather. Students who walked in were encouraged to write down how they loved their body and then be photographed with their statement. About 50 students participated and their statements included comments like: “I get 8 hours of sleep every night,” “I eat lots of fruits,” and “I have safe consensual sex.” The pictures of these students can be found on the WGRAC Facebook page.

As the topic of body image became clearer, an Eating Disorders panel at the Smith House followed on Tuesday. The panel included Health Center Director Martha O’Brien, Psychology Professor Laura Holt, Anthropology Professor Rebecca Beebe, Director of the Counseling Center Dr. Randolph Lee, and Athletic Trainer Justin LeDuc. The discussion began with a clip from the Dove evolution campaign that showed how models’ natural beauty comes misconstrued with makeup and computer programs. The various departments answered questions that ranged from “where is the line between being concerned about your health and obsessing?” to “how can I help a friend that seems to be having body image or eating issues?” The panel proved a great success, with about 20 students attending, and a very engaging discussion. This same day, PHAB also showcased a falsified ad exhibit in Mather Lobby, which aimed to show that Photoshop is real and we are exposed to it everyday. Images from Ralph Lauren, Redbrook, and Anne Taylor were included in the exhibit. In additions to these, a few satire pieces were included to demonstrate that unrealistic standards are created by manipulation of pictures.

The week was wrapped up with a Yoga event on Wednesday. Richards states, “We thought it would be nice to end with something calming.”

Love Your Body Week was a highly successful event that brought to light many issues that are important to Trinity students. The organizers of the event wanted to bring education on body image issues to students and they did so through their various events. As Schulman states, “We hope that [the week] encouraged more self-love and kindness to ourselves and other students, creating a more positive campus climate. We wanted to encourage students on campus to embrace themselves, flaws and all, and realize they are more than a sum of their parts but also that their parts, from their head to their toes are wonderful and do so much for them.” We look forward to future PHAB events!

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