The Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC) tabled all last week in the Kirby Commons to encourage students to love their bodies.
“For this event we’re trying to help students on campus, especially women, to see themselves in a more positive light,” said Chaela Hins. “I don’t have to be anorexic; I don’t have to have an eating disorder. I don’t have to be dieting; I don’t have to wear a ton of makeup to show that I love my body.”
Hins, a senior at UMD, said her major in women studies kindled her passion for women’s issues, especially regarding body image. She, along with a handful of other students, worked with the WRAC to host Love Your Body Day (LYBD) all week.
This year is the 15th anniversary of LYBD, a campaign first created by the National Organization for Women (NOW), the largest feminist grassroots organization in the country.
Since 1998, NOW promotes LYBD as a way of “wiping out narrow beauty standards, superficial gender stereotypes and the portrayal of women as a sexual commodity, (which) will help erode sexism in other areas and advance our goal of full equality for all,” according to the LYBD official website.
UMD’s WRAC annually celebrates the campaign, but this year they wanted to incorporate a new and positive element to engage students with LYBD.
“This year, the photo booth is a new thing,” Hins said. “We’re just trying to find ways to get students involved in our organization. We want all students on campus … to take a picture of themselves or with their friends that’s saying ‘I love my body, and I’m not afraid to show that.’”
Students Jane Welch and Addy Scrimgeour both struck a pose or two in the photo booth on Oct. 16 and stuck around to talk with Hins about the effects of the media over-sexualizing and stereotyping body images.
“A lot of people have a distorted view of what normal is for women,” Welch said. “I feel a lot of people have these ridiculous expectations for women that are physically impossible.”
Hins said the media projects a lot of “unhealthy, skinny women” that are “completely Photoshopped.” As a response to this, the WRAC had posters showing before and after images of models with obvious digital enhancements.
“I think our biggest issue, which is kind of an invisible one, is body image,” Hins said. “More and more people are viewing what is predicted by the media for women as something that’s acceptable, and I don’t think it is.”
The photos taken from LYBD will be displayed in the Multicultural Center, as well as on the Statesman’s website. To learn more about the Love Your Body campaign, you can visit http://loveyourbody.nowfoundation.org/about.html.
BY KIM HYATT firstname.lastname@example.org