The Love Your Body campaign was catalyzed by the NOW Foundation, which celebrates Love Your Body Day in the fall. In addition to Love Your Body Day, colleges and universities across the country offer programming for Love Your Body Week in the spring. This week is designed to counter the body-hating and body-shaming messages that permeate our culture and to celebrate body positivity.
Some of you may be familiar with Jean Kilbourne’s work – Kilbourne was one of the pioneers in critiquing gendered advertising. For years Ms. Magazine has offered their No Comment section, featuring particularly egregious examples of ads that sexualize, fragment and objectify women, and often condone sexual violence, all to sell products. NOW has a collection of these kinds of ads as well. But all you have to do is look at a webpage, see an advertisement on TV or your smart phone, or pass a bulletin board; you can find plenty of examples yourself. You may be thinking: well, it’s just advertising and doesn’t affect me. Kilbourne, though, reminds us that advertising tells us stories about ourselves and who we are, or should try, to be.
It is women’s bodies that have been historically targeted, and targeted most intensely, by these messages. Be thin! Be hairless! Wear makeup! Be sexy! Increasingly, though, we are beginning to recognize the impact that advertising’s messages have on men as well. It has not gone unnoticed by feminist media critics that while women are supposed to get thinner and smaller to be acceptable, men are supposed to get bigger and more muscular. The promotion of hyper-masculine appearance and behaviors is unhealthy for men. Normalizing hyper-masculine behavior is dangerous for women as well.
And, in a society which continues to reinforce the gender binary, and have very specific expectations about what men and woman are supposed to look like based on that binary, transgender and gender non-conforming folks are especially alienated and may have even more difficulty in having a healthy body image.
Love Your Body Week offers a range of programming intended to help you do just that: Love Your Body. You’ll see body positive and body-loving messages scattered around campus. You can take advantage of talks, performances, workshops, and experiences all designed to help you tune in to your body and celebrate it. Please join us at any and all events that interest you.
The Landis Collective is well represented in Love Your Body Week activities. In addition to co-sponsoring the entire week of programs, the Women’s and Gender Resource Center and the Popel Shaw Center for Race and Ethnicity, along with Hillel, are hosting Hair Journals, the Center of Service, Spirituality, and Social Justice will set up their Labyrinth and the Office of LGBTQ Services is facilitating Trans and Non-Conforming Conversation Space.
Love Your Body Week is co-sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues, the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, the Women’s and Gender Resource Center, the Popel Shaw Center for Race and Ethnicity, Student Senate, the Department of Psychology, Psychology Club, the Wellness Center, the Office of LGBTQ Services, Hillel, Peer Assisted Learning about Sex (PALS), Dining Services, the Multi-Organizational Board, and the Center for Service, Spirituality, and Social Justice.
Written by Dr. Donna M. Bickford, Director of the Women’s and Gender Resource Center