In the age of social and visual media dominating people’s feeds and screens, body image is a topic of discussion that many people, including college-age students, struggle with. In America, 10 million women are struggling with eating disorders, and countless more have likely had societal pressures weigh on their self-confidence. This week, college campuses across the country are tackling this issue by participating in Fat Talk Free Week, a national campaign to eliminate language that may hurt students’ body image. The initiative’s motto is a powerful one, reminding young adults about the importance of supporting your friends and peers: “Friends don’t let friends fat talk.”
Throughout the week, UConn’s Women’s Center has been tabling in the Student Union to raise awareness about the initiative and topic. The table has two different posters for students to write examples of positive body talk and negative body talk to share their experiences.
“Most people have written examples of positive body talk, which we really like,” Kamya Trivedi, a fifth-semester finance major, said. She is part of the Women’s Center Programming Committee, which plans the center’s events, such as the tabling for the week.
“We wanted to contrast the way we might think a certain way about our bodies when we should be seeing all these good things,” Trivedi said. “The number on the scale does not determine my self-worth,” “You are beautiful no matter what size you are,” “Beauty is beyond size” and “Self love is the best love” were some examples of the examples written on the poster for positive body talk.
The Women’s Center has participated and has planned events for Fat Talk Free Week in previous years.
“Fat Talk Free Week is a national initiative to combat negative body talk and combat negative stereotypes about body image in different communities,” Trivedi explained. “We usually do tabling throughout the week and provide information and giveaways.”
In honor of this week’s message, the Women’s Center has planned other events to discuss body image.
“We also had a ‘Tough Tea Time,’ where we got a group of people together to discuss the topic of body image, how they feel about their own bodies and how they feel awareness about body image has changed in the last decade,” Trivedi said. “[Last night,] we [had] a screening of ‘The Illunionist,’ which is a film about media and body image.”
Along with other organizations on campus, such as UConn SHAPE, the Women’s Center works throughout the year to provide resources and information about body image and how it is discussed. During Fat Talk Free Week in previous years, UConn SHAPE has hosted the event “Catwalk to End Fat Talk.” The Women’s Center Programming Committee plans to have more Tough Tea Times, as well as other events in the future to support the study body.
“We really try to raise awareness about how body image affects people of all different experiences and also how we can combat certain ways we may feel about our own bodies,” Trevedi said. She explained more about the responsibilities of the Programming Committee. “We essentially plan and execute events that the Women’s Center does. We invite students to come and participate in our planning because when we have more input, we have more programming that can cater to a diverse perspective.”
If students want to get more involved in the Women’s Center and its initiatives, the Programming Committee meets on Mondays, from 7 to 8 p.m., and the Marketing and Outreach Committee meets on Tuesdays at 4:45 p.m.
Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.