By Daryth Gayles, WCC Campus Outreach Intern
On Monday, May 9, Students Supporting Body Positivity (SSBP), in partnership with the Bridge, led a body positivity workshop at the WCC. The workshop helped students redefine beauty, build confidence, and foster self-love. I wanted to share some of the workshop’s highlights:
This was a fantastic way to open the workshop. The meditation asked us to be still, to feel love for ourselves, and to feel loved by others. It helped to put us at ease in preparation to share thoughts and personal stories during the workshop.
Health and Beauty Messages
The workshop leaders led a discussion delving into the health and beauty messages that society sends us. These come from a wide variety of sources—peers, parents, the media, coaches—the list goes on and on. We talked about how messages from doctors can be particularly problematic. Doctors often use their professional authority to tell patients what is best for them regarding exercise and eating habits. However, there is science that suggests nutritional and exercise needs are quite individualized. Indeed, it can be empowering to know that YOU are the expert on your own body.
We also discussed the workout pressure on campus. The Stanford community is very active, and those who aren’t as active often feel pressure to do more. However, it is important to acknowledge that Stanford is an isolated environment. Societal norms are very different outside of the “Stanford bubble”. Messages about health and beauty vary with time and place, and thus messages are constantly changing. There is no single right or wrong answer.
Throughout our discussion, we tried to define what beauty meant to us. We saw beauty as a broader term, encompassing inner and outer radiance. We came to the conclusion that when we think of someone who is beautiful in our lives, we don’t necessarily think of celebrities or supermodels; we think of people who are loving, who give off positive energy which radiates its own type of special beauty.
The workshop leaders introduced us to intuitive eating. This provides a new way to look at health and nutritional food consumption. They provided the following definition:
Intuitive eating is the practice of letting your body guide you in choosing what, when, and how much to eat. Eating intuitively means sensing the signals from your body to tell you what you need, and trusting yourself to make decisions that will nourish your unique body. Rather than relying on external messages to tell you what foods are good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, you take time to ask yourself what foods your body wants in the moment, and do your best to give it what it asks for, no matter how the food is labeled by others.
That is not to say we should give up on healthy eating entirely and subsist solely on junk food. Intuitive eating, at its core, is about listening to our bodies while practicing moderation. Every food can have its place in a healthy diet.
My Beauty Is…
In accordance with our group definition of a broader definition of beauty, this activity allowed us to create a poem declaring our personal beauty. The workshop leaders read a series of sentences that we filled in with phrases of our choosing. We wrote down our insecurities, the things that we love to do, our strangest habits, body parts that we were teased for, the moments when we felt the most empowered. We then placed the phrase “My Beauty is” before each description, creating a poem that communicates a diverse definition of personal beauty. Personal beauty is not purely physical, nor is it purely a collection of our most positive attributes. As cliche as it may sound, we established that beauty lies in the humanity of our imperfections, our kindnesses, our passions, and our quirks.