• BEST IN STATE—Senior Courtney Schoen Lewis was named Best PR Student in Utah. Story

‘Every Body Rocks!’ at body-image fair

April 3rd, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Chelsea Gensel

Photos by Whitney Petersen

The message of USU’s first ”Every Body Rocks” body-image fair was clear to the 300 or more people who passed through the daylong event: celebrate and promote confidence and comfort for all body types.

Students and others perused fliers, posters and interactive presentations by various USU and community organizations, and visited booths offering information about eating disorders, poor self-image and media portrayals of “beauty.”

Kelsey Eller, a volunteer representing the USU dietetics department, said she thought 300-400 visitors came to the fair, which offered over a dozen booths.

Some exhibits offered popcorn to passers-by, while others provided educational posters about eating disorders. An interactive “Suspects at Large” booth identified common contributors to poor self-image, such as ill-fitting clothing and the mass media.

About 30 visitors took advantage of the opportunity to fight back by smashing a bathroom scale, symbolic of frustrations with weight, Eller said.

Another volunteer from the dietetics program pointed out a mirror covered with dozens of Post-It notes on which fair visitors had written positive statements about themselves.

Other booths included one from the Disability Resource Center, which focused on weight discrimination and stereotypes, and another featuring several pairs of jeans decorated by women recovering from eating disorders.

There was also a booth about the benefits of fat and healthy cooking, while another focused on types of eating and dieting; another focused on stress management.

Psychologist Eri Bentley organized the event, which was sponsored by the USU Counseling and Psychological Services Center and community sponsors.

Bentley said that it has taken years to actually pull together the body-image fair, although the concept has been discussed for some time.

The event pulled together various campus and community groups with a stake in the theme “Every Body Rocks,” Bentley said.

Visitors to the body-image fair bash a bathroom scale.

The goal was to raise both awareness and appreciation of various body types, to promote positive self-image, and to explore and perhaps debunk common myths about topics related to the perception of beauty and health.

“The title Every Body Rocks says it all,” she said. “Every type of body and shape of body is beautiful.”

For skeptical students or those struggling with negative self-image, Bentley said she recommends paying attention to internal qualities and capabilities when outer qualities don’t seem positive.

Even if you don’t believe something is positive at first, she said, the more you reinforce it, the more your body is trained to help you feel better.

“For example, you might say, ‘Yes, my legs are kind of big, but it helps me run really fast,’ and that doesn’t seem good to you, but the more you do it, the better you’ll feel,” she said.

One stressor for young people can be concern about how others view them and their body type, Bentley said. The first steps to self-acceptance can be difficult, and she urged students struggling with such internal conflicts to visit the USU counseling center on the third floor of the TSC.

“You don’t have to have therapy,” Bentley said, “you can just ask us questions.”

A popular display at the fair reported survey results detailing what USU students are looking for in a partner, including responses from heterosexual, bi-sexual and homosexual males and females.

Across all the categories, intelligence/education or personality ranked the highest, while physical features/body type or religion ranked next highest. Social status came in last across the board.

Other ranking areas included facial features, financial strength, fashion and hobbies.

Eller, of the dietetics program, said she thought the fair was a success.

“There were a lot more guys here than I thought,” she said, “and I think people were pleasantly surprised about the type of information available. It’s not just about eating disorders—it also includes media influence and stereotypes and other things.”


Tags: , ,

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.