'Love Your Body’ Fair Promotes Healthy Self-Image

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

by Courtney M. Fowler

As technology advances and social media grows more prevalent in daily life, there’s a tendency for young people to lose perspective of their own self-worth in favor of comparing to others who they consider ideal. Doing so, however, can lead to anxiety, depression and overall negative self-image that manifests in many ways. With an estimated 88% of young people between the ages 18 – 29 using social media, though, the need for comprehensive solutions to practice self-care has become more pressing than ever.       

Katie Bean, assistant director of SJU’s Wellness, Alcohol and Drug Education (WADE) Program, and her supportive team at the Office of Student Outreach and Support are working towards that goal. The group is hosting SJU’s ‘Love Your Body’ Fair on Tuesday, February 12, at the Campion Student Center at 11 a.m. with a goal of promoting healthy body image and self-esteem through interactive participation.

We talked to Katie to learn more about what students can expect from the fair and the value of self-acceptance.   

What inspired the launch of the “Love Your Body” Fair?

When I started at Saint Joseph’s in 2011, we’d a created a Wellness Fair and it was a very well attended successful event, so we considered how to mimic that success with another important topic, which is self-love. National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is in February and we had a committee working on educating the campus during that week in a variety of ways and we created the Love Your Body Fair out of that committee. The goal of the fair was, and is, to try to remind people to love the body they are in for what it does for them without focusing on the negative self-talk or self-image that is sometimes pervasive in the college population.

What can SJU students expect to learn while attending the fair? 

We’re really hoping to keep the experience interactive, so that people start having these difficult conversations. The best case scenario would be people reminding themselves of the amazing things their body does for them rather than considering the way their body looks. Society and social media can have a negative influence on our own self-image and introducing the SJU community to ways in which to counteract those problematic influences is a crucial part of the fair. Resources on campus - like WADE and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) - are great outlets that positive self-love and it’s important make their presence known.

Why is the messaging of the ‘Love Your Body’ Fair so important?

Negative self-talk, negative body image, negative self-esteem - those are all real issues that have always affected young men and women but it is exacerbated by social media which is very prevalent in this generation. People are always comparing themselves to others and putting on filters on their Instagram pictures to "improve" the way they look or try to "fit in" with the image society says is beautiful. We hope people can recognize that they are beautiful just the way they are! 

How do you see the fair influencing the way that attendees interact with others on campus?

I can't imagine that one fair will totally change the way people interact with each other or the way people speak to themselves about their body (although I hope so!), but I really hope it starts a discussion between friends and roommates. I would hope that people start to recognize when they do judge other's looks and appearance or when they judge their own - and try to instead appreciate the uniqueness of each individual.  Everyone could be a little kinder to their own body and maybe that will help the way we interact with others and share love and support for one another.

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