How Denison Celebrates Body Positivity

One of the first things I read about Denison in The Fiske Guide to Colleges was about “Naked Week,” which occurs every February during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. This week I got to experience my very first “Naked Week,” and I’m here to tell you all about how Denison celebrates body positivity. 

The celebrations kicked off with the first run at 12:30 pm on Monday, just outside of the library. The library is right in the center of where almost all classes meet, so there were students lined up outside all of the academic buildings anticipating the run. As soon as the clock struck 12:30, students ran out of the front doors of the library fully naked. They circled around the buildings as people cheered them on. Luckily, it wasn’t too cold that day; there have been times when students have run nude through a snowstorm. There were five more runs that week in the evenings, each scheduled at 9:30 pm and each taking place at different spots on campus. Each night also had a theme. On Monday night, the theme was “Pride” and students ran through the first-year dorms with rainbows painted on themselves. The other themes included superheroes, safari, holiday, and splatter paint. 

Experiencing Naked Week as a first-year is super interesting because no one really knows what’s going to happen. No one knows if you’re supposed to watch, or what to expect, or how many people do it. Everyone's a little shy, a little giggly, pretty amused, sometimes scared. It’s mainly upperclassmen, but I think it often becomes a bucket list item for a lot of students. 

In addition to the runs, there are also posters up around campus and on the sidewalks with body celebratory quotes. Some remind you to love your body, some praise uniqueness, others encourage you to take care of yourself. Around the gym, there are sticky notes with important reminders. My favorite said the following: “exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.” Everybody needs a reminder from time to time that your body is worth celebrating for everything it does for you. Whether that’s taste your favorite food, dance to your favorite song, or keep breathing even through your hardest days, there’s a lot to celebrate. 

National Eating Disorder Week only comes around once a year, but body image struggles are a daily concern for some. Look out for yourself, look out for your friends, and reach out if you need help. You deserve it.

*NEDA hotline: (800) 931-2237

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