Women's Center volunteer Chi Zhang hands out flowers and chocolates around campus to promote Love Your Body Day on Oct. 23. (Faith Komlo/ B&W Photo)

Lehigh Women’s Center hosts ‘Love Your Body Day’

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What is considered “beautiful?”

The Lehigh Women’s Center and the Healthy Body Image Group held Love Your Body Day on October 23 to keep people thinking about how to respect and appreciate their bodies.

“The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of Love Your Body Day on campus and to celebrate all people – regardless of size, age, skin color, ethnicity, ability, or gender identity,” Carolyn Sivco, ’15, said. “We want to encourage members of the Lehigh community to appreciate their bodies and to accept themselves for who they are. We hope that our initiative can make campus a little bit brighter, happier, and accepting of its diverse body types.” Sivco organized the event this year, as well as in 2011 and 2012.

For Love Your Body Day, anonymously written Post-it notes were hung around nearly every building on campus, carrying affirmative messages like “Weight does not dictate your beauty or worth,” “You are loved,” “Change the way you see, not the way you look,” and “ROCK your body!” In addition to the Post-it notes, which are regularly part of the celebration, this year the group had volunteers spread out over campus to hand out chocolates, fresh flowers, and inspirational messages to people in an effort to make the experience more interactive.

“We wanted to put a face to our initiative in order to make it that much more meaningful and personable,” said Sivco.

In past years, Lehigh students were asked to write down what they love most about their body and to pose for a picture. This year, instead of pictures, more personal videos were recorded of students, staff and faculty about what a healthy body image means to them. The Women’s Center also handed out free tank-tops in the University Center that said “Love Your Body No Matter What Shape” to participants.

A compilation of these videos will be edited together and the final video will be posted later in the semester on the Women’s Center’s social media pages and website to showcase the event’s participants and encourage a healthy body image.

During the afternoon, The Women’s Center hosted a discussion on eating disorders and transitions to explore how society and gender influences eating disorders and what is known as body dysmorphic syndrome.

Ryan Sallans, a transgender speaker and diversity trainer, facilitated the event to share his own story of eating disorder recovery and his transition from female to male. Here, participants posed questions and shared their own stories about body image. Sallans also holds discussions at other schools nation-wide.

“As a previous member of Break the Silence, I know it’s important for women to cherish their bodies,” Maddie Lucas, ’15, said. “Love Your Body Day is important for Lehigh’s campus in promoting confidence and for students to consider why they love their body.”

The Healthy Body Image Group holds discussions year-long about the depiction of women in the media, and leads campus projects to recognize the value in all body types, appearances and sizes.

The preparation for the Love Your Body Day event here at Lehigh began at the beginning of fall semester, and involved writing over 1,000 post-its to be hung around campus.

“We worked with various organizations such as the Gryphon Society and Graduate Student Life to ensure our message reached as many Lehigh community members as possible,” said Sivco.

Overall, she identified the day as a huge success, as it has been in previous years. Love Your Body Day is not only present on Lehigh’s campus, but is a nation wide event. The National Organization for Women’s Foundation held the event on October 14.

In March, the Women’s Center will hold another one of their most popular events, The Real Beauty Fashion Show, as a part of healthy body image week.

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