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Week promotes positive body image

| Monday, February 17, 2014

This week, the Gender Issues Committee of student government is trying to promote conversation about body image and understanding through Love Your Body Week.

“We have a lot of students here who are perfectionists,” Monica Daegele, director of the Gender Issues Committee, said. “Everyone is well-rounded and talented at a number of things. But with that kind of perfectionist mentality can sometimes come dangerous behaviors and obsessions. The point of Love Your Body Week is to bring into perspective this mentality that a lot of students have.”

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Daegele said the events planned for the week will emphasize that body image issues are relevant to both men and women.

“Eating issues, body-image issues, they are not just a female problem. A lot of men struggle with them, as well,” Daegele said. “A lot of research done in the past 10 years has illustrated that there are so many undiscovered body image issues for men. I think people would be surprised at the number of men who feel uncomfortable with their body, who are trying to fix parts of their body.

“In the past, the eating disorder fact sheets we’ve used have largely focused on women, and this year we have one for women and one for men.”

Daegele said Love Your Body week will address the stereotype that men don’t have eating issues or body issues.

“It’s really quite the opposite — I think one of the statistics is that 43 percent of teenage boys have said they feel uncomfortable with their bodies,” she said.

Daegele said events for the week include free RecSports classes and presentations by the University Counseling Center and the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education. A talk Tuesday night will focus on how advertising portrays male and female bodies.

On Wednesday, there will be a screening of the documentary “Happy,” which analyzes happiness in various parts of the world.

“Essentially what it looks at is what really makes people happy,” Daegele said. “It does a great job of putting everything into perspective and allowing a greater message to be received.”

Daegele said representatives from the University Counseling Center and Office of Alcohol and Drug Education will discuss disordered eating Thursday evening.

“They’re going to make it very applicable to Notre Dame,” she said. ‘The title of the presentation is ‘Eliminate the F Word’ — ‘F’ being ‘fat.’ That’s a common theme that will also be present throughout the week, getting students to understand the negative effects it can have on everyone.”

On Friday afternoon, there will be free massages in the Sorin Room of the LaFortune Student Center, Daegele said. RecSports will host a workshop Sunday that teaches women how to utilize weight rooms.

“There’s a huge stereotype that women shouldn’t lift weights or build muscle,” Daegele said. “This will walk women through the different weights available and show how lifting weights is actually very good for you.”

Daegele said the events of the week will take a holistic approach to body appreciation.

“We want to show why our bodies are important to us and why taking care of our bodies is so important,” she said.

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About Catherine Owers

Catherine Owers is a junior from New Orleans, Louisiana. She is studying English and Theology.

Contact Catherine