This week, Colorado State University students are going to learn how to love the skin that they’re in.
Body Acceptance Week, running from Feb. 24- 28, is a week dedicated to helping students see how beautiful they are by sending positive body images.
“We are putting on Body Acceptance Week because there are many students who struggle with having positive body image as a result of messages from the media and society that depict a narrow-minded and unrealistic standard of beauty,” said ASCSU Executive Director of Health Mackenzie Whitesell.
“I’m really hoping that the students who attend the events this week leave the week feeling a little more confident and supported at CSU,” Whitesell added. “We want to promote a safe and supportive environment for everyone and I hope that this week will help to build that sense of community.”
Negative body images among students can contribute to a variety of mental and physical health problems, with the most prominent issue being eating disorders.
“This week is important because we are trying to do two things: we are trying to create a culture where we accept bodies of all shapes and sizes, including our own, and we are trying to raise awareness to eating disorders and bring light to a really serious topic,” said coordinator of mental health for the CSU Health Network, Janelle Patrias.
“I think it is more of an awareness raising event, but for people who see themselves and who know they are struggling, it is pretty powerful, it has a way of jolting them and thinking ‘maybe I really need to take this seriously and think about myself’,” Patrias said.
Patrias has seen past positive body awareness events help students who are struggling with their image. Last year, a student with an eating disorder posted on the CSU Confessions Facebook page about how the positive body image signs in the Rec Center helped her see that the campus cared about her well-being.
“When people are struggling with these situations, they feel invisible, they feel like no one sees their struggle and their suffering and they feel that connection with the campus resources and the campus community, it feels like we are doing our job and that is what we are here for,” Patrias said. “If one student connects with this and seeks help, I think that it is a success.”
Multiple organizations around campus, including the Women and Gender Advocacy Center, the Kendall Nutrition Center, and Campus Recreation, have collaborated to try to reverse the negative body image that is typically seen on college campuses.
“We think it’s really important to support students and make sure they feel valued for who they are,” Whitesell said.
Whitesell added that it is important to note that eating disorders are not just a female issue, but that this week is also aimed towards men as well.
On Monday, ASCSU and Patrias set up in the plaza and the library handing out sticky notes and T-shirts and asking students to write down positive things about themselves.
“I think this event is awesome and I was so excited to come check it out,” said sophomore journalism major Rachel Wertz.
For Wertz, this topic of positive body image is one that she is very familiar with. In high school, she struggled with an eating disorder.
“I am past (my eating disorder) now, and since it ruined my life for so long, it breaks my heart to see other students still struggle with it,” Wertz said.
“It is good to do this because (positive body image) is always a good reminder,” Wertz added. “Once you have been (through an eating disorder), it is easy to go back to that state mentally, but it is important to step back and keep in mind that there are more important things in life than the size clothes.”
Collegian Reporter Taylor Pettaway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.