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Love Your Body Week 2014 Celebrates Every Body

Begun in 2004, Love Your Body Week (LYBW) is in its 10th year at Boston College. Maureen McGrath, CSOM ’16, will serve as the first point person and co-director of the event with Grace Na, A&S ’16, who is the second point person.

“The event is the effort of the whole staff,” McGrath said.

In 1973, just three years after Boston College began accepting women into its undergraduate programs, the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) was established. Located in McElroy 122, the WRC served as a centralized information hub for women on campus. The WRC, as reported by The Heights in 1971, was there “anytime for any woman.”

In the following decades, the WRC was instrumental in the furthering of women at BC. Since 1973, with help from the WRC and other organizations on campus, many programs have been implemented on behalf of the women at BC, including the introduction of C.A.R.E Week and bystander training, the women’s studies minor, and the establishment of the Women’s Issue vice president position in the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC).

The positive changes that have happened on campus are mirrored in the WRC, its administration has recently changed their name to the Boston College Women’s Center (WC). The mission of the Center today is to “cultivate a campus culture that fosters the advancement of women and inspires all students to discover and embrace their full potential.”

McGrath, an undergraduate staff member of the WC, said that this name change conveys that the organization is doing proactive work to help combat the various issues women face in society today.

“The Center has discussion groups and meetings to be proactive and combat the problems in advance,” McGrath said.

In conjunction with its mission statement, the WC envisions a campus free of sexual violence and works to empower female and male students to build a network of faculty, staff, and alumni mentors, and to be a place that is accessible for all members of the BC community.

To achieve these goals, the WC implements many programs, such as discussion groups like Think Tank, residential hall talks, a mentoring program called BC DUO, C.A.R.E. week, and the upcoming LYBW.

The week-long event will kick off on Monday with two events: “Can’t ‘Let It Go’: Frozen in the Disney Beauty Myth, and “Bodies that Matter.”

Professor Bonnie Rudner of the English department will lead the discussion of Disney and the messages these movies convey about body image and gender.

The second event of the day, co-sponsored by the Women and Gender Studies program and led by Denean Sharpley-Whiting, a professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies and French at Vanderbilt, seeks to open a dialogue about the black female body and sexual politics, and how these intertwine, according to McGrath.

On Tuesday there will also be two events. The first, “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself,” is a male-oriented event and explores how today’s culture is preventing young men from developing into their authentic selves.

This event will be co-sponsored by the SANKOFA Leadership Program, ManUP, Freshman, League, DIOP, and Sexual Chocolate. Later that evening Alexis Jones, founder of I Am That Girl, will come to campus to speak, an event co-sponsored by UGBC, IATG, and Women in Business. I Am That Girl is an organization that seeks to help girls express who they are, and learn how to be loved and love themselves.

Wednesday night YouTube performer Lily Myers will be performing her most famous poem, “Shrinking Women,” as well as some of her other works.

“The poem explores how women are encouraged to take up so little space, literally and figuratively,” McGrath said. There will also be an open mic for other BC students to perform.

Thursday’s event is “Em[race]: Challenging Standards of Beauty at BC and Beyond.” Co-sponsored by FACES, this event will host a panel of BC students. “This event will talk about the ideals of beauty at BC, particularly how body image intersects with race and how that affects a student’s experience as a BC student,” McGrath said.

Friday will have two events as well. The first, co-sponsored by BCRec, will be a yoga class. This will not be unlike a normal yoga class, but will emphasize mindfulness and relaxation.

“This will be an opportunity for students to have a constructive exercise session,” McGrath said. “It will be an opportunity to exercise because you love your body instead of hating your body, which is a key distinction.”

The closing event for the week will be a performance of The Good Body, a play written by Eve Ensler. The Good Body explores Ensler’s “journey with body image and the pressures that women all around the world feel,” said the director, Samantha Gordon, who is a resident director in CLXF.

This performance is Brechtian theatre, or a type of theatre. “It tries to get people to do something, to move people to advocate for change,” Gordon said.

Each rehearsal begins with a discussion about important topics—such as beauty, love, or body image—before delving into the actual performance. “The actresses are from all grades and are incredibly beautiful, smart, and intelligent women who are open and honest about their hopes and dreams,” Gordon said.

Most importantly, Gordon hopes that this performance will push students to change the way they perceive body image and rise above the pressures that they feel.

“These women have taught me not to assume anything about anyone regardless of how they present themselves,” Gordon said. “They have shown me a lot of what’s beautiful about the students at BC.”

Despite the decade-long history of LYBW and the variety of events, the focus of the week has remained consistent—to present BC students with the opportunity to work on developing healthy relationships with their bodies and to further their education about issues that face women and men today.

“The key goal of this week is to have an opportunity for critical dialogue,” McGrath said. “And to provide a space to discuss how we can constructively move forward.”

Maureen McGrath’s last name was misspelled in the original online version of this article.

Featured Image by Boston College’s Women’s Resource Center

November 9, 2014