By Kelly Zheng
The University Health Center, Counseling Center and RecWell partnered for Love Your Body Week from Feb. 26 to March 1.
The groups strove to send positive messages to students about self love and self reflection through a variety of events during the week.
Love Your Body Week has been celebrated for many years and correlates with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, according to Sarah Wilson, Health and Wellness Coordinator at the University Health Center.
“Our role at the university is really to bring awareness,” she said. “We want to get people talking about body image and what it means to them. These are necessary conversations to have since it is often dictated by the media. ”
Wilson said body image can be defined as appreciating and caring for one’s body, but also recognizing that the body can be a challenge to love.
The events change year-to-year based on student needs or requests, but have similar overlap, according to Wilson. This year’s events included Open Mic Night, Terps Take Care, Love Your Body with Recwell and Decolonizing Body Image.
Monday’s Open Mic Night, a recurring event, was hosted at MilkBoy ArtHouse by Terpoets and the Counseling Center. Students were invited to share stories of struggle, frustration, hope, learning and acceptance.
“It’s important to give people a safe platform to talk about disorders and body images,” Wilson said. “These issues do not discriminate based on age, gender, race, or sexuality.”
The Department of Resident Life also took part in the week by holding the Terps Take Care Fair on Tuesday. Mental health and emotional wellness were the focus of interactive activities like coloring, yoga and meditation.
After the afternoon movement, students were able to participate in one of RecWell’s weekly, group fitness classes including Dance Fit, Bodycombat and Zumba that night.
Wilson said this was a celebration of movement, as colorful, laminated cards with body positive messages were placed on cardio machines throughout campus gyms for a pick-me-up reminder and reflection.
Additionally, the Student Dietetic Association, an organization of dietetic majors, and Jane Jakubczak, Coordinator of Nutrition Services at the Health Center, said their role was to provide information on the importance of food as a part of body image.
Senior dietetics major Lauren Seat said one of the messages the group gives is that all foods can fit into a healthy diet. The group encouraged people to think about what they are eating with nutrition fact cards, resource flyers and spinner wheel questions.
“Part of being healthy is having a good relationship with food, so be able to enjoy an ice cream cone or cookies,” Jakubczak said. “I think our society has gotten into this good or bad food [stigma] and people feeling guilty if they eat a certain food that’s deemed bad. We’re trying to help people feel okay about eating a cookie.”
Wednesday also included a discussion on how race and culture can influence body image with the Counseling Center and Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA).
“Hosting this made the conversation accessible to everyone, especially marginalized communities,” said Dr. Rashanta Bledman, a psychologist in the Counseling Center. “Even though everyone identified differently, there was so much interconnectedness, and people could understand each other’s perspective.”
Bledman said there are misconceptions that the discussion was only for people who look a certain way, have eating disorders or are female and feminine. However, the overall week was about being inclusive, she said.
Love Your Body Week was scheduled to run through the school week, but was canceled Friday due to bad weather.
“The most feedback we get is how thankful students are to have these conversations, how nice it is to have a spot to share their stories or how many other people on campus also care about this,” Wilson said.
Wilson said students are welcomed to talk about concerns or issues, pertaining to body image or not, with any of the partnered organizations to combat confused feelings and connect them with resources.
Photos by Alana Caesar