Cultivating Self-Love: A Recap of SSPB’s BeYOUtiful Workshop

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:

Self-Love Meditation

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.

Intuitive Eating

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.

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Women In Transition: Challenges Facing Women Refugees

Women and girls comprise half of the world’s 17 million refugees. To survive displacement, refugee women and girls often take on the responsibility of providing for their families, which exposes them to sexual and gender-based violence both from within and outside their communities. With the current attention paid to crises in the Middle East and Europe, refugee issues have entered the media. Many countries have put resources into building refugee camps without developing long term solutions. Nevertheless, knowledge about refugees and resources for them are still lacking.

Currently, many of the aid programs for refugees focus on physical needs, such as food, water, and shelter. A majority of the focus is placed on more short-term solutions such as improving the refugee camps that are currently very dangerous places for refugees. Many women face trauma and fear leaving the house and risking their physical safety or legal status.

Regardless of how important it is to improve these conditions, countries should also start placing more emphasis on long-term solutions regarding the resettlement of refugees in host countries.  Without advocacy and support, it is incredibly difficult for a refugee to navigate the new country.This is where organizations like Asylum Access and Refugee Transitions come in. They provide expert legal guidance to refugees to help them access resources and improve their legal status. This focus on physical needs only also can cause further psychological distress when refugees are not engaged in the process.

To discuss these challenges commonly faced by refugee populations especially by women, the WCC hosted two panelists. Our two guests were Jane Pak (Refugee Transitions, a local NGO with an international outreach) and Diana Essex (Asylum Access, an international NGO with large Bay Area operations).

Both of our speakers pointed out specific challenges for women regarding the difficulty balancing childcare and employment. Refugee Transitions seeks to cross this barrier by implementing home-based solutions and welcoming children at programs. They also emphasized the difficulty for refugees to find employment due to barriers posed by employment laws. Oftentimes, restrictions push refugees to seek illegal forms of employment. Illegal status in the country makes accessing resources very difficult.

Some people worry about balancing integration into a new country with one’s interest in going home. This is important to consider and individuals may have different concerns or priorities. Talking to people about their needs is key. Furthermore, providing work permits and other resources that allow some measure of financial independence actually makes it easier for a refugee to return home. Financial resources are important for travel, and access to information allows people to learn more about their home country and ease the transition back.

Too often, refugees are seen as a burden on a country. Ultimately, they can bring a great influx of resources. They often come with unique knowledge and the need to work hard to improve their condition. Employing these skills and experiences could create great progress for the country of refuge. Diana Essex mentioned that the refugee populations are very entrepreneurial; however, because of the employment legislation, the host country doesn’t receive data about these communities’ contribution to the national income or tax revenue levels.

Our conversation landed on the conclusion that engaging refugee populations, via employment, education and communication, is a key to a successful resettlement program. Ultimately, this approach is more effective, more thoughtful, and more just. Jane Pak, from Refugee Transitions, mentioned one awesome example of engaging with and learning from refugees. They created a narrative cookbook that tells the stories of refugee women through family recipes. You can check out the cookbook hereIf you would like to take a look at the book, we have a copy at the WCC Library! You are welcome to learn and try a couple of these yummy recipes.

Posted by Belce and Annie

“My Body, My Power”: A Learning Process

The WCC, in collaboration with Cardinal Council, Cardinal RHED, and Students Supporting Body Positivity, created the “My Body, My Power” social media campaign to promote healthy body image during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (Feb 21-27). This campaign, designed in the “Humans of NY” style, features Stanford student athletes discussing how they value their bodies in the context of athletics. You can check out the campaign on the Cardinal Council Instagram account @stanfordcardinalcouncil and Cardinal Council Facebook.

The Vision

This campaign was part of my intern project. As a member of the Stanford Track and Field team, I have noticed that body image is a prominent issue in the student athlete community. From dealing with worries about being too muscular (or not muscular enough) to facing pressure to maintain a particular power-to-weight ratio, student athletes confront unique stressors that may render them susceptible to body image insecurities. I wanted to create a campaign that addressed this issue in a powerful, intimate way. When I thought of previous campaigns that had captured this intimacy, “Humans of NY” came to mind. I love how each image-quote pair, albeit quite simple, tells a poignant story.  I decided to model the “My Body, My Power” campaign in the same style.

The Process

I thought that organizing the campaign would be relatively straightforward. After all, I just needed a few quotes, some photos, and an Instagram account. As it turned out, creating an effective, thoughtful campaign was much more complex than I had initially imagined. It required finding a social media platform that would provide high visibility. I needed to get approval from the Athletic Department and check NCAA guidelines for athlete participation. I wanted to incorporate diverse perspectives into the campaign.  Most importantly, I had to frame the campaign in a way that was sensitive and thoughtful. This was the most challenging task.

Collaboration with various staff and student groups proved to be the best way to accomplish these goals. Once assembled, our team brainstormed numerous questions. Should we include both males and females? Should we tell stories of struggle and resilience, or focus more on athletes’ appreciation of their bodies? After meeting with Kelli Moran-Miller, a Stanford Sports Medicine psychologist, and Kristen Gravani, a Stanford Sports Medicine dietitian, we decided to create a campaign that focused on the merits of body function. We wanted to feature athletes who valued what their bodies could do, rather than what their bodies looked like. The end product was a celebration of the body among males and females alike. Kelli, Kristen, and our team reviewed each quote to ensure that it fit within our framework.

Lessons Learned

Overall, this was an immensely rewarding process. I became more sensitive to the nuances of language surrounding body image. I learned about the organization and coordination required to create an effective campaign. Kelli and Kristen illuminated methods and thought processes that can be powerful in promoting healthy body image. However, the most rewarding part of all was hearing feedback from student athletes. Many told me that they had felt inspired by the campaign, that it had prompted them to reevaluate the way they view their bodies. This had been the goal all along. It was incredible to see our digital campaign produce tangible results.
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“My body has given me the confidence that I can do more than I ever thought I was ever capable of, and to me, that’s worth celebrating. If this complicated powerful machine that allows me to push my limits, reach my goals, and play the sport I love isn’t beautiful, than I don’t know what is.”

– Ashley Watson

Sophomore, Women’s Field Hockey

Photo Credit: Norbert von der Groeben/Isiphotos.com

 

Daryth Gayles, WCC Campus Outreach Intern