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Community Health is inviting the CU campus and Boulder community to recognize and celebrate Love Your Body Day with the rest of the nation.
Community Health’s Love Your Body Day event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in Old Main.
The night will start with a student-made video showing what students at CU think about body image. Many events will follow, including a one-woman play, an interactive theater performance, a speaker who has survived an eating disorder, an art show and a Body Speak Out welcoming anyone to speak. The night will end with a reception of free, catered food.
According to the Wardenburg Health Center Web site, “Community Health is a public health peer education program that focuses on supporting and improving CU students’ well being. [Its] philosophy encompasses perspectives in privilege, oppression, health disparities, and social justice.”
This is the first year Community Health is participating in the Love Your Body Day national event.
Delia Bakeman, a senior integrative physiology major, is the main Community Health student staff member putting together Love Your Body Day. She started a body image group within Community Health for self-education and this year decided to spread the knowledge and positivism campus-wide.
“We tend to have ideas about things like fatness versus thinness and what it means to be healthy, and we’re getting the idea out to students that maybe some of what they’re been perceiving and taught for years are actually things that are proven to be wrong,” Bakeman said. “This is a chance to be able to embrace people’s bodies the way they are without anything necessary to change them.”
The expected turnout for the event is around 200 people, including 100 from the volunteers and students of the Community Health classes, Bakeman said. They are hoping for a mixed gender group that also includes people from the community, not just students.
Liza Fryberger, a sophomore communications major, also has a major role in planning Love Your Body Day.
“We feel like there hasn’t been a lot of conversation in the past few years about promoting positive body image on campus, and Boulder has a specific, expected body type,” Fryberger said. “It seems like thin equals fit which equals good, and that’s a really unrealistic way to look at it.”
Carmen Cool, a psychotherapist working in private practice since 2001, agrees with this view.
“I think body image is a problem on college campuses everywhere, and for that matter, I think it’s a problem with people everywhere; just the normative discontent that we have with our bodies,” Cool said. “That being said, I do think that Boulder is a particularly difficult town to be in.”
Healthy at every size and creating conversation about body image are to be major themes of the event.
“We’re calling it an opportunity for people to let go of judgment,” Fryberger said. “We want people to leave thinking of the possibility of changing the conversation, how we talk about ourselves and others around us and the impact that has on our daily lives. Whether that’s the kind of language that we use or the attitudes we have – it all makes a huge impact on our mental health, relationships and the people around us.”
Chelsea Hackett, a senior theatre and dance major, will be performing a one-woman show about body image at the event.
“It’s really been therapeutic in a way because I think that we all deal with all of these issues, and each of the eight characters [in the skit] have a different aspect of me in them; I don’t think I could have created them if they didn’t,” Hackett said. “It’s been an introspective journey.”
Cheryl D’Epagnier, a senior integrative physiology major and Community Health volunteer, said she would be attending Love Your Body Day because her studies fall right into line with the concepts of the event.
“I want to learn more about it,” D’Epagnier said. “I know there’s healthy at every size, but I don’t know where the fine line is drawn. I’m interested because I see both sides of it. I hope it’s somewhat of a wake-up call, or at least is put in the back of people’s minds – I know it’s not going to change everything, but just to get the idea out there.”
D’Epagnier said that the welcoming attitudes and atmosphere provided by Community Health might help make a personal subject easier to discuss in a public forum.
“With events like these, we don’t expect people to come and their life will change and they’ll suddenly have all of these revelations about body image, and leave being like, ‘I love my body!’” Bakeman said. “I hope people can come and at least spend the time they’re there thinking about it, and it can lead to more thoughts around the issue.”
Bakeman also plans to continue Community Health’s celebration of Love Your Body Day.
“I would love to see it become an annual event,” Bakeman said. “I might be the one running it, but there are so many people who have put so much into it; everyone has their own piece. All of these people have come together for a common goal…we’re all really excited for Wednesday.”
Contact CU Independent Contributor Maggie Schoonmaker at Schoonmm@colorado.edu.