Love Your Body Week returns to Ohio State improve body image and spread awareness

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Rani Bawa (right), participates in Project HEAL’s fall 2019 event “Falling Into Self Love.” Credit: Courtesy of Rani Bawa Love Your Body Week is returning virtually to Ohio State Sunday through Feb. 26. The universitywide collaboration, led by the Student Wellness Center, plans to address issues of body positivity, eating […]

two girls pose with a self love sign

Rani Bawa (right), participates in Project HEAL’s fall 2019 event “Falling Into Self Love.” Credit: Courtesy of Rani Bawa

Love Your Body Week is returning virtually to Ohio State Sunday through Feb. 26.

The universitywide collaboration, led by the Student Wellness Center, plans to address issues of body positivity, eating disorders and body dysmorphia, giving students a chance to focus on improving how they perceive their bodies.

Love Your Body Week 2021 will include 23 activities and presentations, hosted by a variety of departments and organizations within the Ohio State community. A complete list of events and access to the events are available on the Student Wellness Center’s website.

“We really wanted to make it this collaborative, campuswide initiative to discuss body image in a number of different lenses, to really encourage all areas of campus life to join the discussion in creating this culture of care for anyone who is struggling with body image, looking for support, looking to learn how to support others,” Jordan Helcbergier, wellness coordinator for outreach and programs at the Student Wellness Center, said. 

Helcbergier said Love Your Body Week began last year, in alignment with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, but it goes beyond conversations about eating disorders and disordered eating with events about fitness, identity and nutrition.

Inclusivity is an important component, Helcbergier said. Organizers and presenters made a conscious effort to use non-gendered language and include perspectives beyond female body-image issues, which are often at the center of conversations like the ones covered in Love Your Body Week. 

“It’s really exciting to have so many people involved,” Claire Pitrof, Body Project student assistant at the Student Wellness Center, said. “It’s going to make the conversation very nuanced, as it should be.”

Project HEAL, a student organization dedicated to raising awareness about eating disorders and mental health issues, will host Victoria Garrick, a former collegiate volleyball player, social media influencer and mental health advocate, Monday at 7 p.m to talk about her own struggles with mental health and body image and take questions from participants in the event “Getting Real with Victoria Garrick.” 

“She’s so open with her story and everything,” Rani Bawa, co-president of Project HEAL, said. “She’s a really great role model.”

Other student organizations contributing include Sky at OSU, a student organization that uses yoga and meditation to help manage stress and improve well-being, and MindVersity, a student organization that focuses on bringing mental health care to students of color at college campuses across the country.

Sky at OSU will host two sessions of “Breath Strong,” a guided meditation, Wednesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. and MindVersity, will lead ”Body Dysmorphia and Eating Disorders: What is it and How to Help Those Suffering”  Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Bawa said she looks forward to the workshop “The Body Project Open Session,” which will kick off the week Sunday at 5 p.m. The event will be hosted by the Student Wellness Center’s The Body Project, a body acceptance program that aims to challenge thin idealization and negative body talk.

“It’s a research, evidence-based program and it’s a body acceptance thing, designed to help students feel better about their bodies, and talk about diet culture, and thin ideals and social media,” Bawa said. 

Helcbergier said she is excited for The Body Project’s “Art Therapy for Self-Care” event Feb. 26 at 6 p.m., where students can express themselves through painting on pots or canvases. To receive free supplies, participants must RSVP on the website.

Helcbergier also said she looks forward to “Gender Identity and Body Acceptance,” an event held by Students for Diversity in Education Through Service and Pride OSU Feb. 26 at 4 p.m. The event will discuss body dysmorphia and coping strategies for transgender and nonbinary people.

Student Wellness Center staff will host multiple events throughout the week, such as “The Body is not an Apology: A Mindfulness Practice,” a mindful yoga and meditation practice focusing on self love Monday at 6 p.m., and “The Weight of Stigma in a Diet Culture World,” an interactive presentation on weight bias and modern body positivity movements Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. 

Pitrof said she thinks it is important for Ohio State to address mental and physical health issues relating to self-esteem and the body because students should feel supported by the university and know what kind of resources are available for them. 

“It’s a subject area that a lot of people maybe dance around, but we’re really proud to be a force in that,” Pitrof said. “We’re gonna have the conversation and we’re not going to shy away from having it.”

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