This week, as part of Love Your Body Week, the Gender Relations Center collaborated with groups across campus such as Notre Dames, Student Government, McDonald Center for Student Well-Being and the Culinary Appreciation and Outreach society to put on events and provide resources to empower students to love their bodies. The events reflected the fact that there are a variety of ways to do this including learning how to make healthy food choices, eating mindfully, exercising and working towards creating a positive self-image in light of outside pressures such as the media, peers or co-workers.
Two events including a movie showing of Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising Images of Women and a discussion hosted by the GRC called “Whey Too Much: Media, Exercise and Body Image” addressed the issue of body image and how media affects both men and women. Other events such as “Painting Positivity” and the “Thankful Boards” set up at North and South reminded students to pay attention to the positive aspects of their lives.
There were also other opportunities for students to engage in discussions. On Tuesday, Notre Dames held a “Talk it Out Tuesday” which focused on topics such as “Thinspiration” and “Strong is the new skinny.” One discussion “Created in God’s Image: Faith and Friendship’s Role in an Eating Disorder” talks about how to manage an eating disorder at Notre Dame while tying in the idea that we are all made in the Image of God. The week wrapped up with a food panel discussion and dinner, where the talk revolved around how food affects people’s relationships with each other, with one’s self and the community.
On Wednesday, Megan Smedley from the Physical Education and Wellness Instruction gave a presentation on mindful eating and then had participants practice mindful eating themselves. Mindfulness and mindful eating encapsulate many of the issues touched upon throughout the week because they includes paying attention to the mind, body and spirit. Being attentive can help you to regulate how you react to different events or people in your life. Megan shared a definition of mindfulness from Jon Kabat-Zinn explaining that, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally.”She also shared a video of him describing mindfulness.
People are constantly being told what they should be eating, but are not necessarily told how and why. Mindful eating places a large focus on how and why one is eating, not necessarily what. Megan was sure to emphasize that eating healthy is important, but mindful eating does not focus on this.Mindful eating includes being more aware of tastes and textures of foods, sensations you have while eating and thoughts and emotions you have. Megan went on to explain many of the benefits of mindful eating. These include leaving a positive and lasting view on how we view food, slowing the pace of meals, optimizing digestion, gaining abetter understanding of the quality and sources of our food and forming deeper connections with family and friends.
The mindful eating discussion began with the quote above. It really highlights the importance of self-love as a basis for thriving in all areas of life. While the week may be called love your “body”, we must also focus on loving our whole selves. Self-love includes loving ourselves, loving our bodies and having confidence in ourselves. Love Your Body week provides students with a strong starting point to improving the light in which they view themselves, but we all must kept up the effort throughout the year. Take time every day to foster this self-love and help friends to do the same!