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Group promotes body love

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, October 16, 2008

On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, some students were taking midterms. Others were writing papers. On the second floor of the Rock, 17 students were doing Downward-Facing Dog.

Stretched out on mats, light music playing in the background, 15 women and two men followed the directions of a RecSports yoga instructor, raising their shoulders off the mat to do the Cobra Pose and expelling tension from their muscles.

The free yoga session was part of “Love Your Body Week,” a series of events spearheaded by Notre Dame Feminist Voice, a campus club that discusses gender issues.

Senior Sarah Lyons, the vice president of Feminist Voice, had to run to class after an hour of stretching, balancing and rhythmic breathing.

“I’m feeling very centered,” she said. Lyons had never taken a yoga class before. She said she enjoyed it.

“Love Your Body Week” is about more than physical health, Lyons said, but also about mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Wearing pins that said “I love my body,” Lyons and Feminist Voice secretary Mary DeAgostino talked Tuesday about “Love Your Body Week,” a longer version of the national “Love Your Body Day.”

“Our bodies can do amazing things for us and a lot of times we kind of take them for granted and don’t give them the respect they deserve,” DeAgostino said.

Like a lot of Americans, Notre Dame students might forget to take the time to reflect on their bodies, she said.

“Our big push for the week is to raise the issue of how women’s bodies are viewed in society, and maybe that isn’t right, and refocus it, to promote awareness of some of the issues women and men experience and make it a positive message,” DeAgostino said.

To start off the week, the group sponsored a sustainability dinner on Sunday, which discussed how people could live in a sustainable way, reducing their carbon footprint and eating healthy, locally produced foods.

The group showed “Real Women Have Curves,” a film starring “Ugly Betty” star America Ferrera on Monday. They invited a South Bend ob-gyn to talk about reproductive health topics, like sexually transmitted infections, natural family planning and contraception.

“It may have been the first time that contraception was discussed on campus in a non-confrontational and unbiased way, which was really exciting for us,” DeAgostino said.

There will be a dance workshop on North Quad from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, featuring ballroom dancing, break dancing and Filipino dancing instruction. Following the dance class, Valerie Staples of the University Counseling Center will use the reality show “America’s Next Top Model” as a starting point to talk about the way bodies are depicted.

Lyons and DeAgostino said they hope this week-long event will become a yearly tradition at Notre Dame. This year, they had the co-sponsorship of the Student Union, the Biology Club, GreeND, Students for Environmental Action, the Women’s Running Club, Project Fresh, Ballroom Dancing Club, Gender Studies, Sociology, Men Against Violence, the Progressive Student Alliance and the Filipino-American Student Organization.

People should love their body more than just one time a year, DeAgostino said.

“Make this something you think about, not just this week but throughout your life, reassessing your relationship with your body, and how you are treating it and respecting it,” she said.