The “Body Project” is a two-part workshop series put together by the UConn Women’s Center and Student Health and Wellness with the aim of fostering dialogue about positive and healthy body images. The first session was held on Feb. 28, with a second one to be held on Mar. 7 at the Women’s Center Reading Room.
The interactive program combats unrealistic beauty standards in an open forum, encouraging participants to let all their thoughts out.
“We see reinforcements of diet culture everywhere: on social media, in television, and in our everyday conversations. These small reminders compound on one another and create a culture of people with negative self-image,” said project facilitator Alexandra Kapell, a fourth-semester human rights and political science major, in an email.
Prompted to apply after finding the opportunity on Instagram, Kapell, along with other “Body Project” facilitators, hopes to fight toxic ideals perpetuated by college culture.
“The ‘Body Project’ teaches participants to question these messages and begin to challenge them. This will hopefully allow participants to break the cycle of negative body image passed down through generations and enable them to be less susceptible to societal negative reinforcements.”Alexandra Kapell project facilitator, a fourth-semester human rights and political science major.
The “Body Project” is a research-based program, shown to improve body satisfaction and reduce risks of unhealthy eating behaviors. As a result, facilitators can’t step into their roles blindly. They first attend the workshops as participants, and then undergo official training with staff from the Women’s Center and SHaW. The process is ongoing, with facilitators attending bi-weekly meetings to look over curricula and talk about pertinent societal issues. Through this active discussion, “Body Project” facilitators are better equipped to take on tough topics and direct students to relevant on-campus resources.
Each “Body Project” session is two hours of honest and inclusive conversation. In the first session, participants discussed how ideas on body image are marketed through various forms of media, or even family and friends. The second session aims to push participants to rethink toxic ideas fueled by society. In doing so, facilitators also encourage participants to strive to challenge these messages. Not only is the workshop a place to vent and learn, but it also gives both participants and facilitators something to bond over.
Typically, two to four workshops are held each semester, but the “Body Project” is not the only thing in-store at the Women’s Center. On March 8, they will collaborate with International Student and Scholar Services to celebrate International Women’s Day. At the event, participants will make cards, learn more about how the holiday is celebrated worldwide and be gifted a rose.
The same day, they will be hosting a discussion on bell hooks’s “Communion: The Female Search for Love.”
“Come as you are and leave renewed in your capacity for transformational teaching,” the Women’s Center encourages.
Registration for these events and more celebrating Women’s History Month can be done on the Women’s Center website.