Last Wednesday, UConn S.H.A.P.E. held a plate smashing event on Fairfield Way. Students were encouraged to write down negative perceptions of themselves on a plate before shattering it, letting the toxicity go.
Students Helping Achieve Positive Esteem (S.H.A.P.E.) is a small peer-education group under UConn Student Health and Wellness focused on spreading awareness about eating disorders and promoting body positivity. The group facilitates workshops in UNIV classes and Greek organizations, frequently collaborating with the Women’s Center, Active Minds and Nutrition Club.
“S.H.A.P.E. is important to me because I am a strong believer in loving oneself: mind and body. College is already a stressful time, adding in ideals about how our bodies should look makes it even harder. Dedicating yourself to saying ‘no’ to diet culture and these expectations can help us reduce the amount of eating disorders we see,” said Michaela Bureau, a sixth-semester nursing major and S.H.A.P.E. internal development member.
Supervised by SHaW registered dietitians, S.H.A.P.E. peer educators study, analyze and discuss the impact of negative body image, especially in the world of media. On top of spreading awareness, peer educators support students by guiding them to relevant on-campus resources. The group also works with the Women’s Center to co-host The Body Project, a discussion-based program combatting unrealistic body standards.
While the group typically runs presentations and discussions, their plate smash event was more on the interactive side.
“Plate Smash came from TikTok, which is ironic as a lot of the discussions we have had this year have been about the negative effects of TikTok. The trend was developed into our take on the event where students could smash body standards, expectations, and plates,” said Lizi Shaul, a sixth-semester student pursuing a dual degree in psychology and theater design and technology.
As a S.H.A.P.E. intern, Shaul was involved in planning the event— tasked with the challenge of securing supplies and conducting the event safely. With some assistance from Dining Services, the group found a vendor to supply plates. To avoid the potential mess and danger of plate shards, students wore safety glasses and smashed plates into garbage cans. S.H.A.P.E. hopes to make Plate Smash an annual event where students can have a fun time letting go of negative standards.
In February, the group conducted Give One, Get One, an event where students wrote anonymous compliments to each other during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. At the start of April, S.H.A.P.E. held a body image panel and began a new discussion group called Stand Up to Beauty Standards.
If you’re interested in becoming a S.H.A.P.E. peer educator, you can fill out a form on SHaW’s website or visit their social media page to learn more.