Love Your Body Week encourages students to conquer insecurities

Last week, Active Minds teamed up with various other students groups on campus to present Love Your Body week, a five-day series of activities geared toward raising awareness of body image issues and eating disorders at the College. Events included a dinner discussion conducted in conjunction with the Black Student Union (BSU) and the Minority Coalition (MinCo) on the intersection of beauty, race and culture, a holistic wellness Stressbusters that included a body-loving fashion show, a student body panel given in partnership with Peer Health and a self-celebration night to cap off the week.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 95 percent of people with documented eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Of diagnosed patients, 86 percent report the onset of an eating disorder by age 20. Active Minds helps address the prevalence of eating disorders among college-aged persons by coinciding Love Your Body Week with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. According to Taylor Nutting ’14, co-president of Active Minds, rather than being alarmed by these statistics, the campus should be even more dedicated to addressing eating disorders among its students. “It means that right now, while we are here [at the College], our message is most important and we can really change students’ lives,” Nutting said of Active Minds’ work.

Active Minds designed Love Your Body week to educate students about how positivity can change body image.

“We wanted [the College] to know both that disordered eating is a serious issue and that a good first step [to prevent it] is to start thinking about why you love your body and yourself,” Nutting said. “You have to make a conscious choice every day to love and accept yourself.”

The “My Body, My Story” panel on student body image last Thursday night built on topics of body issues and self-esteem discussed during Love Your Body week. The panel brought together five current students at the College to discuss their relationships with their bodies as well as their experiences with disordered eating, over-exercising and social and athletic pressures to maintain a certain physique. Panelists gave accounts of personal struggles as well as challenges with body confidence faced by loved ones, evoking strong emotional responses from the audience. The differences in the stories revealed the scope and diversity of experiences with disordered eating. Following the personal narratives, audience members were invited to participate in an open and frank discussion of body image culture at the College. Participants raised questions about how to encourage healthier relationships between students and their bodies. Panelists and participants brainstormed about how to improve support for those wrestling with disordered eating, as well as how to increase preventative measures that would change the culture at large. Through events geared toward creating positive body image, Love Your Body week engaged campus in conversations about self-acceptance. Cooper Nassery ’14, co-president of Active Minds, said it best: “Acceptance is a choice you make.”