Body Acceptance Week workshops educate students about fatphobia, body image

Matthew Bailey

The Women and Gender Advocacy Center at Colorado State University hosted workshops and presentations during this year’s Body Acceptance Week, including workshops that focused on fatphobia and male body image.

“It’s starting to be a tradition at CSU,” said Angelica Murray, a program coordinator for the WGAC. “There are several offices at the University that come together every year to think through what are some educational opportunities we can offer to students on the various issues that may be impacting students as they relate to their bodies.”


Kodi Phelps, a second year graduate student in the student affairs in higher education master’s program at CSU, delivered a presentation on fatphobia from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Lory Student Center to an audience of about 30 people.

In her presentation, Phelps reviewed topics such as the history of fatness, how societal influences impact how people see fat and fat talk, asking audience members, “Does this oppression make me look fat?”

a woman moves her hands while talking
Kodi Phelps, a master’s student as CSU, gives a presentation entitled “Does This Oppression Make Me Look Fat?” Her presentation focuses on fatphobia and was part of CSU’s Body Positivity Week. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

“It’s different by culture, it’s different by location and the people you grow up around,” Phelps said. “(Fatphobia) is going to all look different depending on who you are and the identities that you have.”

Phelps created interaction between herself and the audience by handing out worksheets for audience members to fill out and grouping audience members together to discuss scenarios relating to fatphobia.

Audience members were given one such worksheet entitled “Thin Privilege Knapsack Assessment,” in which they had to check off given scenarios regarding fatphobia that they couldn’t relate to.

Phelps will be speaking at this year’s TEDxCSU event, which takes place in the LSC Mar. 25.

Carl Olsen, the program coordinator for Men’s Programming & Violence Prevention at the WGAC, gave a presentation on male body image in Willard O. Eddy Hall Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. to an audience of about ten people.

“Being a man is pretty easy in this particular country, but it’s a different kind of tough for men to really think about and engage in this conversation,” Olsen said. “The conversation is different when men initiate it, when we actually truly care about the way we think about ourselves.”

a man moves his hands while talking in front of a white board with lots of words on it
Carl Olsen, the program coordinator for men’s programing and violence prevention coordinator at the Women’s and Gender Advocacy Center, gives a presentation on male body image. The presentation was part of CSU’s Body Positivity Week. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Throughout the presentation, Olsen had audience members draw what they thought the ideal male body image looks like, and then he asked members what influenced them to draw those images.

He then had audience members draw what they thought society’s “funny guy” looks like, and he again had audience members explain why they drew their particular images.


Towards the end of his presentation, Olsen showed the audience a series of pictures and asked the audience to describe the male body images they associated with the images, which included images of an expensive car, a football helmet, a truck and the Old Spice logo.

Both Phelps’ and Olsen’s presentations examined how society influences how people view body image, and they asked audience members to break out of those views and social norms.

“The phrase that I’ve learned to say a lot is ‘where did you learn that?’” Olsen said.

Collegian news reporter Matt Bailey can be reached at or on Twitter @matnes1999.