The Lehigh Women’s Center celebrated Love Your Body Day on Oct. 22 to promote body positivity and encourage students to reflect on what they love about their own bodies.
“Love Your Body Day is (about) getting people together to talk about what they love about their bodies because we don’t usually get that opportunity,” said Rita Jones, the director of the Women’s Center.
From dorm bathrooms to academic buildings, 1,400 Post-It notes decorated the campus to share body-positive messages. Student organizers handed out t-shirts, buttons and chocolate in the University Center while encouraging students to write what they love about their bodies, whether it be physical or otherwise, on paper doll cutouts. Eventually these will be displayed, probably in the Women’s Center, but the location has yet to be determined.
Student representatives were also stationed around campus to discuss the importance of Love Your Body Day and body positivity as a movement.
“We celebrate it for one day but it’s an overarching idea that we should think about and celebrate every day,” said Ashley Balliet, ’17. Balliet and Lexi Haggert, ’18, were the student organizers for this year’s event. Both are also in charge of the eating disorder and body positivity group.
The event has been similar in past years — the Post-It note encouragements are a favorite among students. There is always an aspect in which students reflect on what they love about their bodies. Last year, the Women’s Center compiled a video of students, faculty and staff sharing their favorite things about themselves. Pictures of students holding white boards with something they love about themselves written on it has also been done.
Love Your Body Day didn’t originate at Lehigh. It’s part of a larger initiative started by the National Organization for Women in response to the unrealistic beauty standards provided by the entertainment industry. According to the organization, “the Love Your Body campaign challenges the message that a woman’s value is best measured through her willingness and ability to embody current beauty standards.”
Jones argues that everyone is trained to see their bodies as projects to fix or perfect, and they are constantly being bombarded with messages that tell them they haven’t gotten there yet. According to the National Organization for Women, 53 percent of 13-year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies, and by the time they reach age 17, this figure grows to 78 percent. Love Your Body is all about combating this statistic, especially as bodies are constantly changing.
“There’s something new to love (about your body) everyday because bodies change everyday,” Jones said.
The Women’s Center recognizes that one day isn’t enough to change the way society views beauty and their own bodies. In November, they will host a discussion about how to continue to maintain a healthy body image through the holidays, especially as there’s so much food during this time. Next semester there will be spa night, and eating disorder awareness week is at the end of February.
Haggert wants to remind students, “It doesn’t matter if you fit any kind of stereotype, just love who you are and be who you are.”