For individuals plagued by the cookie-cutter cultural expectations of beauty and the “norm,” Sierra College is seeking to strengthen self image and identity in the form of its seventh annual Love Your Body Week.
The event began Monday April 8 and extends through Thursday April 11 and will feature events each day that include speakers, films, panel discussions, student projects, poetry readings and a display of the Body Secrets of Sierra College.
“I think that our relationship with our body influences our relationships across the board, how we view ourselves and feel about the world around us,” said Megan Seely, Sierra College Love Your Body Week coordinator.
The week not only focuses on body image, but sexuality and gender identity, and issues of the Lesbian Gay Transgender Bisexual Transgender Intersex Questioning community, Seely said.
The message of confidence and standing up for yourself is another focus of the event, said Seely, who mentioned that people are most vulnerable to sexual assault during college years.
“If we don’t have the knowledge and language about consent, then how do we teach one another to communicate about sexual relationships?” Seely said. “If we are not able to identify the culture that allows for rape and violence in the first place, how can we eradicate that?”
Love Your Body Week began decades ago with the National Organization for Women as a way to promote positive self image and break way from the unrealistic expectations of beauty for women portrayed in popular media, which have led to eating disorders, low self-esteem, addiction and cosmetic surgery, according to the Love Your Body national website.
Seely had experience with Love Your Body Week after she served for two terms as the California NOW president before she became a Sierra College faculty member.
She discussed the event with colleagues and brought the event to the campus seven years ago.
“It’s actually a campaign that originates with the National Organization for Women, so chapters and schools have done this for decades now,” said Seely. “The national campaign focuses on women’s issues, but we wanted to really broaden it.”
Presentations will include topics of societal norms and standards of beauty, cultural identity, body acceptance, LGBTIQ stories, feminism, human rights, suicide awareness and prevention.
“All the workshops have the same kind of dialogue of looking at what the body politic is and how do we identify ourselves within culture and community,” Seely said.
The week is co-sponsored by the Associated Students of Sierra College, the Sierra College Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Rainbow Alliance and the Sierra College Sociology Club.
Many of the days will take place at the Rocklin campus of Sierra College, but today focuses on the Nevada County Campus and will include films and presentations in room N-12-103.
Professor Heather Eubanks will present “Hope You can Dance!” 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m., which will focus on how to overcome doubts about body image and discuss the benefits of dancing as a way to stay active and healthful.
“I wanted to do something that would encourage people to be active because I think fitness is definitely one of those areas people get discouraged from participating in because of their body image,” Eubanks said. “I’m going to present it to look at dancing as an opportunity and an experience to let go of restraints and take away the power from negative things, so we’re not held back from living.”
There will also be a “Just Dance” party on the big theatre screen.
From 12:30 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. professors Ishtar Thomas and Rachelle Soles will present “If I’m Beautiful, then I’m Lovable, Right?” about biological, psychological and cultural perspectives on beauty.
A film titled “Miss Representation” will be offered from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. with a discussion afterward.
Another part of the event is an information fair, which involves nonprofits and displays of student projects, Seely said.
“I love the student projects that are incorporated into the coursework to present visual information because it has a direct connection to student learning and participation,” Seely said.
To view the calendar of scheduled events, check out the website at http://sierracollege.edu/lybw.
For information, visit http://sierracollege.edu/lybw or call 916-660-8068.
“Regardless of which workshop you look at, they are really designed to empower our students and attendees,” Seely said, “with a knowledge base that not only educates but involves how we interact with ourselves and others.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.