Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Love Your Body Day at Brandeis: challenging media’s narrow beauty ideals

Published: November 18, 2011
Section: Features

It is no secret that our media’s emphasis on beauty and thinness has fostered a negative body image among the majority of young women. Magazines and advertisements usually feature unnaturally thin and digitally edited white women throughout their pages, which sends a message to all girls that being thin and white is equivalent to being beautiful.

College campuses across the country have therefore started an annual Love Your Body Day campaign to combat society’s standard of beauty. This year, Brandeis’ Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) and Triskelion are cosponsoring Brandeis’ own Love Your Body Day for the first time on Nov. 18.

As members of FMLA were browsing through the National Organization of Women (NOW) website, they came across information about the Love Your Body Day campaign and decided it would be a beneficial event to bring to the Brandeis community.

“I think everyone—myself included—have these pressures based on what our society tells us we need to look like and what we need to act like because of our gender or because of our race … so I think having a Love Your Body Day is really important. It’s a self-acceptance day, where you can just appreciate who you are and love who you are,” explained FMLA member Ellie Kaufman ’14.

Love Your Body Day will have two components to it: a campus-wide campaign and the event itself, which will involve a series of booths in the Shapiro Campus Center atrium.

As part of the campus-wide campaign, FMLA members have been sticking post-it notes on bathroom mirrors throughout Brandeis with positive messages such as “You’re beautiful,” “Love your body” or “You’re an amazing person inside and out.” The post-it notes are already proving to have a positive impact.

“I really like seeing the post-it notes on all of the campus mirrors,” Marcie Lieberman ’14 commented. “They actually affect people’s psyche because it’s when people look into mirrors that they become the most self-deprecating. I’m considering adopting that principle and adding post-it notes to my own mirror.”

As part of the campus-wide campaign, FMLA has also been putting up posters that serve as advertisements for the event but also help promote self-appreciation. In addition, slam poets will be reciting poetry about body image in unannounced locations throughout the campus. FMLA hopes that the campus-wide component of Love Your Body Day will therefore affect students regardless of whether or not they can make it to the actual event.

Meanwhile, the actual event taking place in Shapiro Campus Center will consist of seven booths. The first booth will provide students with t-shirt decorating tools, where they can spray-paint t-shirts with statements about why they love their bodies. Through this booth, the Love Your Body Day campaign’s message can continue even after the completion of the event.

A second booth will portray a collage of magazine clippings to show how media negatively affects body image. This booth will offer students a chance to write letters to Sugar in the Raw, a company which recently featured an advertisement which portrays a man trying to figure out if he should buy his wife a calorie-free sweetener.

Throughout the advertisement, the gentleman is trying to figure out if his wife is dieting that week. He’s worried that if he buys her calorie-free sweetener he will be insinuating she is fat. This emphasis on her dieting habits creates a negative portrayal of women in a number of ways and similarly shows how the media has fostered a body-conscious society.

“What kind of message is the ad sending about women? And what kind of message is that sending about body image? Is this how women act all the time and, if so, what does this say about our society?” FMLA member Amalia Bob-Waksberg ’14 questioned.

In addition, there will be a booth dealing with the lack of people of color in popular color. As Bob-Waksberg noted, when people of color are shown in the media, they are often digitally edited to look lighter than they actually are. This therefore creates a negative body image among young people of color and the Love Your Body Day campaign hopes to negate the harmful stereotype that light skin is equivalent to beauty.

Triskelion will also be hosting a booth at Love Your Body Day as part of Trans-Awareness Week. In this booth they will be offering information about alternatively-labeled bodies, intersex bodies, gender queer bodies and trans bodies. Other booths will include “Struggling with Fat-Phobia,” “Struggling with Eating Disorders” and a group mural in which students can write or draw what they love about themselves.

In preparation for the event, FMLA member Esther Lee ’15 went around campus and asked students if she could take pictures of their favorite body part for a poster design. Much to her astonishment, a majority of students responded they did not have a favorite body part.

“A lot of people just said ‘I don’t really love my body.’ It’s sad, but it makes us realize this event would be very beneficial on this campus because a lot of people do have body issues. We want to tell people that they can find at least one thing about their body that they love,” Kaufman said.

FMLA and Triskelion are optimistic about this campaign’s impact. They have already received positive feedback on the event’s Facebook page and have overheard people excitedly discussing the post-it notes on campus mirrors. The letter-writing booth in particular will help the Love Your Body Day campaign reach off-campus heights and will remind companies their advertisements negatively affect society. FMLA hopes Love Your Body Day will become an annual event, becoming bigger and having a larger impact each year.

“We’re told all the time through the media and through society that something about us is not right,” Bob-Waksberg said. “We have to be a certain way or we’re not beautiful. People think there is something wrong with themselves. Instead, we’re trying to show that there is something wrong with the message being sent to us.”