“My Body is Beautiful” Aims to Increase Self-Confidence
Issue   |   Wed, 03/14/2012 - 01:38
Photo by Peter Mack ’15
Students talk to SHE’s about “My Body is Beautiful” Week, March 12-14, at Keefe Campus Center.

This week, the Student Health Educators (SHEs) hosted “My Body is Beautiful” Week.

“The week [is] centered around the idea that Amherst students should support one another in feeling confident and beautiful in our own skin,” said Katherine Blumstein ’13, one of the lead SHEs organizing this week.

This idea has been one that the SHEs have been working hard to fulfill for the last year. Concerned about the “fat-talk,” the frequency at which students complain about their weight and obsession with food or dieting that goes on campus, the SHEs discussed last year of doing work specifically related towards body image. This spring, the group finally had the opportunity to push their idea forward and specifically chose this time of the year for a reason.

Around spring, as the weather warms up, students become hyper self-conscious and hyper aware about their bodies. Because of this, the SHEs wanted to organize a week that was focused on loving one’s body as it is. Rather than being a week focused on nutrition, which the SHEs also have workshops on, this week is centered around Amherst students learning how to take an active stance in loving themselves.

The SHEs started off promoting this week by asking for photo submissions of students with their body in action or a part of their body they love, in exchange for a free tank top with the words “I’m Sexy and I Know It” printed across the front.

“We ended up getting an overwhelming number of submissions, [and] the activity was a huge success,” said fellow SHE Sarah Martell ’15.

In fact, there were so many submissions that there were not enough tank tops to give to everyone. Hoping to make Love Your Body week an annual tradition at Amherst, the SHEs see this as encouragement for resubmissions next year and hope participation in this week only increases as students find more parts of their body to be proud of.

“We had … students sharing pictures ranging from powerful legs to beautiful eyes,” added fellow first-year SHE Morgan Brown.
The SHEs have also been tabling at Keefe this past week, calling for students to create inspiring “body” grams to send to their friends or make their own Love Your Body pledges. These are promises that can be anything from a simple “I pledge to think at least one positive thought about my body a day” to “I pledge to believe all compliments that come to me.” A large part of this week has been to prompt Amherst students to think about their bodies and all that is there love about them, empowering students through their self-image.

The biggest event of this week was the women’s dinner sponsored in O’Connor Commons on Tuesday night, where several female SHE’s led a discussion about body image. Meant to be an open forum for women to discuss their own images of themselves and what they believe adds to negative body images on campus, it was a successful discussion filled with depth upon this topic.
Regarding the dinner, Brown said, “In my opinion, one of the most powerful moments of the discussion was when all of the participants came up with a word to remind themselves that they are beautiful no matter what. My personal word was “talented.” No matter what my face looks like or how my body is shaped, I have a unique set of talents and interests that make me who I am.”

Brown’s words embodied the purpose and meaning of this week, which has really been a way for women to get out their issues in measuring their self-worth and their perception of their bodies. On a college campus, there are always groups of people who have insecurities, and the My Body is Beautiful week is a way to overcome it.

“I really enjoyed this week and think it’s a great concept. It was really nice to have an open forum and discussion and get this thing out in the open, [and] while I feel like this issue on campus is definitely more women-focused, I heard from a couple of men who were disappointed that there wasn’t this kind of opportunity,” Jackie Cosse ’14 said. “I wish there had been something of the equivalent for men.”

With it being the SHEs first time trying out a week themed around loving one’s body, they hope that, with this year’s participation and feedback, this week can continue to be held and improved in the future. Although the week may have focused on women this year, it was meant to also act as an open encouragement for anyone and everyone to love themselves and embrace their body image.

For those wondering about what is to be done about the photos and quotations included with them, the SHEs have made a collage out of the submissions, allowing Amherst students to see the pride and empowerment their fellow students can feel through their bodies.