GVSU to focus on positive body image

By Rachel Huck | 2/25/16 12:01am

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GVL / Luke Holmes - Bre from campus recreation speaks during the "Love Your Body Week: Mindul You" presentation in the Women's Center in Kirkhof Monday, Feb. 22, 2016.


IIn today’s technology-based world, it is important for individuals to take time to put their phones down and focus on their health and wellness. This is especially true for busy, stressed college students. In an effort to facilitate this behavior, Grand Valley State University is hosting Love Your Body Week.

“It is important for individuals to take time out of their busy lives to slow down and pay attention to how their body is feeling, how it is performing and make sure that time is spent on self-care and loving your body,” said Amy Campbell, associate director for campus recreation at GVSU.

Love Your Body Week is a collaborative event with the Women’s Center, the Counseling Center, campus recreation and the women, gender and sexuality department, in conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The sponsors seek to offer programs that focus on positive body image.

“It is important that individuals listen to their bodies and their minds,” Campbell said. “If you are feeling anxious or stressed, typically your body will respond with signals such as tension, higher blood pressure, interrupted breathing or possibly fatigue. If individuals choose to ignore these symptoms, they can lead to greater health complications.

“Taking care of both the body and the mind by staying active, making healthy choices and creating balance in your lifestyle can help contribute to a more positive student experience.”

The week of events will include free yoga classes hosted by campus recreation, as well as chair massages and a Zumba party. Additionally, free eating disorder screenings will take place at various times and locations throughout the week.

“My hope for those that participate in activities throughout the week (is that they are) learning and encouraged to take time out for themselves, for what really matters — especially for self-care,” Campbell said. “I would also encourage individuals to practice or seek self-acceptance.”

Campbell said body diversity means that one ideal body shape or type does not exist, and everyone in the community should encourage individuals to love their appearance.

“The goal is to disrupt the patriarchal, misogynistic and capitalistic messaging that has created a false narrative of beauty,” said Sharalle Arnold, associate director of GVSU’s Women’s Center. “This week is not about diets, weight or being thin, but rather this week is about loving the skin you’re in.”

In addition to Love Your Body Week, GVSU’s Women’s Center is also hosting a variety of other events this semester, including Talk Back Tuesday on March 15, a monthly discussion that focuses on current topics and events in the community.

“Being mindful of everyday life can help students maintain focus, manage anxiety and help to prioritize what your body’s and your mind’s needs are,” Campbell said. “Mindfulness can encourage individuals to slow down, reduce or take away distractions, and create time and space for what is really important at that moment.”

The Love Your Body Week events will take place throughout the week of Feb. 22, for those interested. For event details, visit www.gvsu.edu/inclusion.

“Your physical health promotes mental health. The two work together; it is easier to achieve one when you have the other,” Arnold said. “Being concerned with your wellness is a fine example of loving your body.”

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