Love Your Body Week
When Erika Hutcherson was younger, she said she felt a pressure to look like the women the media presented to her as “perfect.” Now as a post-undergraduate student seeking a certificate in psychology, Hutcherson said she has realized that this image is unobtainable.
“When you’re younger you [don’t] realize that these women are airbrushed, that they have lots of makeup artists, lots of hairstylists, and some of them go to plastic surgeons,” Hutcherson said, “I just think that the media puts this pressure on young women to live up to certain expectations that’s really not necessary.”
To dispel these preconceptions, several Towson organizations collaborated in Love Your Body Week from Oct. 15-19, which was dedicated to promoting self-acceptance and dispelling the inaccuracies presented in the media.
Love Your Body Week is a national event started by the National Organization for Women that inspires women to appreciate their bodies, Jaime Fenton, coordinator of eating disorder services, said.
“I just want to encourage people to work on self-acceptance,” Fenton said. “That we’re in a culture where it’s a makeover culture—makeover your apartment, makeover your life, makeover your looks, rather than just being with yourself [and] learning to like yourself as you are, while also working to be the best that you can.”
This year Towson hosted a Zumba class, a screening of the documentary “America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments” and held an interactive discussion called “Defying Stereotypes.”
At the Zumba event, a dance instructor from A Step Ahead Dance Center taught a class that was preceded by a presentation from Towson Peer Educators on how to have a positive body image while exercising, Fenton said.
One of Towson’s body image peer educators, Amber Baines was a presenter before the Zumba event Monday.
“Events like Love Your Body Week are important because I think people need to take the time to actually appreciate their bodies for what it does,” Baines said. “It’s not about how your body looks—you don’t need to compare your bodies to celebrities and models out there in the media.”
This idea was also addressed at the screening of “America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments” Oct. 16.
The screening was followed by an interactive panel that included the writer, director and producer of the documentary Darryl Roberts.
Roberts, who travels to universities across the country, said he has observed a prevalence of body image issues on college campuses.
“Events like this bring awareness to what we should have all the time, which is an appreciation for our body,” he said.
Roberts said he hoped that after viewing his film, Towson students would reanalyze their view of dieting.
“You have to now say well, if dieting doesn’t work, what does work? And what does work is adopting a healthy lifestyle and loving yourself,” Roberts said.
Hutcherson said she attended the screening because she felt it was a good opportunity to learn about the problems that the dieting industry and the media present to today’s young women.
“I feel like women have a lot of pressure put on them across all races and cultures,” Hutcherson said, “I think it’s really important to teach everybody to learn to appreciate themselves, their gifts. You know, no matter what your body looks like, you should love you for you.”