Celebrate Every Body Week promotes body positivity on Grounds

Week long event highlights tackles issues of body image, eating disorders

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Celebrate Every Body Week included activities like yoga and Zumba, as well as art exhibitions.

Khoa Nguyen | Cavalier Daily

Last week, the Department of Student Health and the Eating Disorders and Exercise Concerns Coalition hosted the annual “Celebrate Every Body Week.” The week-long event included activities like yoga and Zumba, as well as art exhibitions.

Celebrate Every Body Week seeks to encourage a “weight-neutral approach to healthy living for people of [all] shapes and sizes through mindful eating, energizing activity, rejuvenating rest and solid support,” according to its website.

“The overarching goal of the week is to bring awareness to body image concerns and for everyone to realize that they can be happy in their own bodies and that their bodies can be celebrated no matter what they look like,” Laura Widener, Women’s Center intern and third-year College student, said.

The Eating Disorders and Exercise Concerns Coalition helps organize and execute the event and hosts a variety of events on Grounds throughout the week. The coalition is made up of individuals from the Women’s Center, Peer Health Educators, Hoos Open to Preventing Eating Disorders, the Office of Health Promotion and the Athletic Department.

One of the events — the “Jeans Exchange” — is an event throughout the week during which students can donate jeans which no longer fit them.

“We collect jeans to donate to the Shelter for Help and Emergency,” Widener said. “Then students, if they donate something, get a T-shirt in return or a water bottle.”

To promote the event, the Eating Disorders and Exercise Concerns Coalition gave out T-shirts printed with their logo.

“I definitely think people over the years have gotten more and more involved in donating clothes,” Widener said. “Everybody who I’ve come into contact with this week who has donated or just even my friends have wondered where they could get a shirt that has this positive message on it.”

Caitlin Santucci, a board certified art therapist, facilitated an event for Celebrate Every Body Week titled “Love Your Genes Art Exhibition.” Santucci works for Prosperity Eating Disorders and Wellness Center, whose goal is “to help sufferers of eating disorders find a full recovery by meeting their psychological, medical, nutritional, spiritual, emotional and relational needs,” according to their website.

“We took jeans and we cut them up and wrote on them messages that we’ve told ourselves or have heard from others that we want to let go of — so negative messages,” Widener said.

Through the repurposing of old jeans, participants created artistic expressions of body positivity. Widener said the Women’s Center has plans to hang the collection in its building.

“Instead of fitting the fashion standards and fitting the media perceptions of beauty, a part of our mission is to step out of this standard and embrace and love your body for what it is,” Pinky Hossein, Peer Health Educator and third-year College student, said.

In future years, the members of the Eating Disorders and Exercise Concerns Coalition hope to broaden the event, making it more inclusive for all members of the community.

“One way to make Celebrate Every Body Week more gender inclusive is to promote certain events that cater to not only people who identify as females, but everybody at the University,” Hossein said. “The tough thing about eating disorders and exercise concerns is that a lot of men don’t think that the issues pertain to them.”

Widener said she was happy to see students participating in addressing the issues of body image and eating disorders on Grounds while promoting body positivity.

“It’s a great thing to see students really excited about such a positive message and that awareness is being drawn to important issues such as body [image],” Widener said.

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