The week of Nov. 12 marks the 9th annual Love Your Body Week on campus, a week of activities, discussions, presentations and reflections about body image and health organized by the Women’s Resource Center.
Since 2004, Love Your Body Week has helped students to “recognize what characterizes healthy and unhealthy relationships with one’s body, identify strategies… build a healthier relationship with one’s body… and evaluate the false and problematic ways that our society and media presents the body and manipulates our understanding of beauty,” Nicole Laniado, CSOM ‘13 and the WRC’s Love Your Body Week coordinator, said.
With multiple daily events spotlighting critical issues related to mental and physical health and well-being, the WRC encourages BC students to take some time to better appreciate and understand themselves and their bodies. By focusing on both the physical and mental aspects of body image, Laniado said the WRC hopes to “support, educate and empower students to take action and make BC a better community for each other."
While discussion-based events such as “Thinking Ourselves Thin” and “Hair Porn” addresses the social expectations and standards of beauty in an intellectual format, the WRC is also sponsoring Plex classes each weekday aimed at beginners. For those easily intimidated by the prospect of dancing, stretching, or spinning in a large group, this special schedule offers a unique opportunity to jump-start healthy exercise habits.
The WRC has also set out an “EveryBODY Weekly Challenge” which schedules daily tasks for students. These challenges, which encourage beauty in its various forms and promote wholeness of mind and body, may actually be easier than one expects.
For example, Monday’s challenge to avoid wearing makeup and Wednesday’s challenge to wear natural hair, makes it possible to sleep just a little later. Treating yourself to a snack or a nap on Thursday and spending some time outside on Sunday are easy excuses to alleviate the stress that occurs late in the semester.
Love Your Body Week is not solely about the individual, Laniado said. It is also about the dialogue the events spark throughout campus. “The impact,” she said, lies not only in the week’s events, but also “within the buzz and conversations that students on campus are starting to have amongst their friends, roommates, teachers…Although this is a week long awareness project, that we make a sustainable impact within our campus and start changing the discourse on body image.”
This year’s keynote speaker Pepper Schwartz will be delivering a talk, “Intimate Bodies: Sex, Love, and Relationships” Thursday at 7 p.m. in O’Neill 121. Schwartz is a sociology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. She has contributed to newspapers, magazines, and books throughout the nation on the topics of gender studies and sexology in particular.
To bring the message of positive body image home, the culminating event on Friday is a reading of Eve Ensler’s “The Good Body.” It is a play about how body image reinforces the self-love and acceptance that the week promotes by concluding that one’s body cannot be broken and has no need to be fixed.
With a focus on the mental, physical, emotional, and sociological notions of body and self-love, Love Your Body Week 2012 has already sparked critical discourse. “This year in particular, we are having an amazing presence on campus. Our staff and volunteers could have not done a better job in fostering these conversations. This is the most important piece for me,” Laniado said.