‘Loving your body’ embraced at Western

Erika Ward

 Western Illinois University celebrated Love Your Body Day on Wednesday and held programs throughout the day to promote self-love in women.

 Love Your Body — a campaign sponsored by the National Organization for Women Foundation (“NOW Foundation”) — is aimed primarily at young women to help educate them on commercialization, sexualization and objectification of women’s bodies. It also promotes healthy habits and other resources. The goal of this campaign is to expose the media’s ideas and standards on beauty to show how unrealistic and unhealthy they can be. 

 “(Love Your Body Day) is important to me because I am a woman,” senior Kiara Hardin said. “I don’t believe you are a real woman until you learn to love who you are. The world tells us not to love ourselves. This day tells us that it’s okay to love every little thing about ourselves. It’s very empowering.” 

 A kickboxing cardio class was held at the Spencer Student Recreation Center to promote healthy workouts At 11 a.m. After the group fitness program, a Healthy Eating program at the Multicultural Center gave students the chance to eat a healthy lunch. Along with free food, a menu was given to all participants that depicted the foods available and the role they played in helping the body. 

 Throughout the day, licensed massage therapist Tammy Jo Miller welcomed walk-ins and appointments for chair massages in the Keeney Room of the SRC from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Across the hall in the Colgate Room at the SRC, graduate students Evan Westart and Alaina DiGiorgio were available from 12 -3 p.m. to measure blood pressure and perform body fat percentage screenings. 

 Body fat percentages can be broken up into five different categories: essential, athletes, fitness, acceptable and obese. The percentages for these categories also varies depending on gender. For example, a percentage that would place a female in the athlete category would likely place a male under the fitness category. 

 “Hypertension and obesity go hand in hand,” DiGiorgio said. “Your heart gets overworked.” 

 “The best way to prevent diseases and maintain a healthy body fat percentage is to be active,” Westart said. 

 “People think you need a gym membership in order to workout,” DiGiorgio added. “You don’t. Sometimes walking is the best medicine. Walk every day, increasing by 10 minutes each time.” 

 After having their blood pressure and body fat percentages screened, participants were given a slip of paper with all of their information. 

 Back at the Multicultural Center from 2-3 p.m., the Students T.A.L.K. peer educators presented a display about body image. Filled with interactive polls and information, this presentation defined the differences between body image and size along with the different influences on body image, eating disorders and ways to help a friend dealing with body image issues and eating disorders. 

 A program called The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem was set to be held from 3:30-4:30 p.m., but was canceled. However, from 5-6 p.m., the Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority presented “Love Your Selfie: Reclaiming Beauty,” a display which discussed body image influences in the Latina population, the oversexualization of women in our society, unrealistic beauty standards for women and cultural differences influencing body size and image. In addition to this display, the sorority took a number of selfies of girls and posted them on balloons throughout the room to promote loving yourself the way you are currently. 

 Also in the Multicultural Center, the last program of the day, “Looks Aren’t Everything: Believe me, I’m a Model,” from TED Talks was screened and discussed after the showing. The video featured underwear model Cameron Russell, who spoke about being sexualized as a 16-year-old and throughout her life. She talked about body image and the effects that the media has on young girls. 

 From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., resource tables were set up in the Multicultural Center. These tables had information about body image for females and males. There was also information about the importance of fitness, maintaining mental health, helping give yourself better self esteem, quitting tobacco products, self breast exams, signs of testicular cancer, e-cig (i.e. “vaping”) information, healthy eating habits and counseling resources on campus. One of the most interesting displays gave students the opportunity to create a “Bare It All” card where they wrote about one of their features that they like. 

 Western’s celebration of Love Your Body Day ended successfully. Students were able to take away valuable information and resources about body image, becoming healthier and loving themselves for who they are. “If you don’t love yourself, who will?” Hardin said. “How can someone else love you if you don’t love yourself?”