Catwalk to End Fat Talk: A first step to positive body image

UConn S.H.A.P.E hosts the annual Catwalk to End Fat Talk to start off Fat Talk Free Week. Student models walked the runway in their favorite outfits to promote body positivity.  (Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

UConn S.H.A.P.E hosts the annual Catwalk to End Fat Talk to start off Fat Talk Free Week. Student models walked the runway in their favorite outfits to promote body positivity.  (Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

To kick off Fat Talk Free Week, SHAPE held a Catwalk to End Fat Talk in the Student Union. This catwalk consisted of about a dozen girls and two boys of various ethnicities, shapes and sizes, dressed in a selection of outfits that they felt beautiful in. Each of them walked down the stage with their own flare. Some cocked their hips. Some gave a twirl. Some flipped their hair. They all had their own style, but all of them shared humongous smiles and walked with absolute confidence.

One model, Srikeerti Pingle, a freshman ACES major, said that “it was kind of nerve wracking to be in front of the crowd, because I had never done something like that. But it was also empowering.” When the models walked, they were greeted with an overwhelming amount of support and applause from the audience.

Every time one of the models walked, the MC would share a little something about them. At one point, this commentary was on how each outfit made them feel. Answers ranged from confident and beautiful to like “a badass princess.” At another point, it was a message that each student wanted to share with the audience. Each of these messages reflected the model’s positive body image and encouraged the audience to start seeing themselves as beautiful.  

Between struts, the MC played short videos on body image. One of these videos was Natalie Patterson’s “Beautiful Body.” It was a poem that covered one woman’s entire journey to positive body image in the span of just two minutes. Afterwards, the MC repeated Patterson’s mantra of “I have a beautiful body” three times. It was an incredibly powerful claim to ownership that left her, and several of the audience members, in tears by the third declaration.

For the students involved, this was a chance to embrace their own beauty and to show others that the person in the mirror isn’t ever something to be ashamed of. By walking on the catwalk, they took the first steps towards helping themselves and others achieve positive body image.

“It was a really cool experience. It was a lot of fun, and I think I’ll do it again next year,” said Tori Verdone, a first semester nutritional sciences major.

This catwalk was a confidence booster for the models. Pingle said she definitely felt more confident now, “because I walked in front of the crowd, and I kept my glasses on.” To be able to feel beautiful, glasses and all, was something she wasn’t sure she could do before stepping onto the stage.

Verdone agreed as well, saying that “this isn’t something I would’ve done last year.”

Positive body image is incredibly hard to achieve these days. The media says that everyone has to look a certain way. Girls need to be skinny and curvy, while guys need to be muscular and tall. For most people, these expectations are impossible. All of the videos and songs played at this event claimed that everyone is built differently, and so to put “beautiful” into such a small box is ridiculous. Everyone is beautiful in their own way and this catwalk proved it.


Rebecca Maher is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rebecca.l.maher@uconn.edu.