On Feb. 26, students gathered at the Student Union Ballroom for “Jars of Self-Acceptance,” an event to inspire body and mental positivity. This event is in response to National Eating Disorder Awareness week, which brings to light a larger conversation about eating disorders and mental illness.
Hosted by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Students Helping to Achieve Positive Esteem (SHAPE) and Student Health and Wellness, students found their crafty side by painting and decorating mason jars in order to fill them with notes of either self-acceptance or positive thoughts.
The goal of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which lasts from Feb. 24 until March 2, is meant to shine a spotlight on eating disorders by educating the public as well as sending messages to those who may be currently struggling.
SHAPE is a peer education group that works with both the University of Connecticut Nutrition Department and Student Health and Wellness to create events such as this, which promote positive body and self-wellness. Although this specific event is the first of its kind at UConn, SHAPE plans to continue it in the future.
Kasey Macedo, USG member and one of the hosts of the event, explained that although trying to achieve self-love is important, it can also sometimes feel impossible and this event is in hopes of sparking some change in self-acceptance.
“I think it is important to discuss self-acceptance and self-neutrality because no matter what you are struggling with, be it your body image, sexual orientation, etc.,” Macedo said. “Being able to say ‘I accept this about myself’ is a huge step towards feeling empowered in that aspect of yourself.”
Alongside snacks for students to munch on, a slideshow of positive stories of self-acceptance played. In the background, songs of positivity played such as Taylor Swift’s, “Me!” and Demi Lovato’s, “Confident.”
The event also had multiple fliers and stickers present, to give students some examples of self-acceptance phrases and inspiration.
In terms of eating disorder signs, Macedo says a negative distortion of body image can be a red flag and she encourages you to reach out to others for help.
“In a society that has normalized dieting, weight loss products, distorted eating habits and negative self-talk, warning signs can fly under the radar,” Macedo said. I believe that educating yourself about eating disorder warning signs and fighting against the harmful diet culture that we live in can be beneficial to the people in your life, as well as your own.”
If you think you may be struggling with an eating disorder or know someone who is, there are many resources on campus that can help, such as Mental Health Services, (860-486-4705) and free nutrition counseling, (860-486-2719).
Caroline LeCour is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.