We have all heard it. Maybe we have said to ourselves or to others. We have all been tormented in some way by the word "fat" and the idea that our bodies are not good enough. This inspired UCLA Student Barbara Todisco to get involved with the workshop event The Body Project held. Barbara is a third year Human Bio and Society major and an active member in the Body Image Task Force at UCLA and peer leader in the The Body Project. We chatted with Barbara about the issues behind reaching the 'ideal body' and what we can do to change this.
Her Campus: Can you tell us more about the collaboration between the Body Image Task Force and The Body Project?
Barbara Todisco: This is a program that is the result of the partnership between residential life and The Body Project, which is the program founded by the National Eating Disorders Association and from which it takes the name. It is a workshop on eating disorder prevention with the goal of eradicating the ‘perfect body type ideal that is present in our society.' It is a safe and brave space where women (and men) of the same community come together to express why the appearance ideal is deleterious and unhealthy and discuss about the costs of chasing this ideal. It is divided in two sessions of two hours where at the end, people feel empower to express body activism and fight the ‘fat talk’ that too many of us talk about. It is about re-inventing the idea of beauty and becoming an active believer in the fight against social beauty standards.
HC: What is your role for this program?
BT: I am a part of the Body Image Task Force, an organization that spreads body positivity around campus and I had the amazing opportunity of becoming a peer leader of The Body Project and get trained to lead these workshops. Every single time I ended a session I would have so much hope in the power of genuine people who are committed to stop the ‘perfect ideal of beauty’ as a lean, skinny, tall, toned woman and start believing in themselves and the power of their mind and their bodies not as ‘jewelry’ but as ‘Homes.’ During the sessions there will be homework exercise where you will feel engaged with yourself and proud of yourself like you have never felt before.
HC: What message do you hope people get from the workshop?
BT: It’s a life changing experience, it teaches you that you are so much more than your body and I want more people to get involved and see the beauty in themselves. I want more people to realize their potential as active resources for the prevention of eating disorders and obsessive behaviors like over exercising or under eating and understand the costs behind these behaviors.
HC: What does the word or idea of fat/ fat shaming mean to you? Why is it important for us to open this discussion?
BT: Fat must not be the synonym on of ‘ugly’. It’s just a fact, a word. Every one has fat and every one has health. It’s the beauty of human body: coming in different shapes and sizes and understanding that this is the best time to gain confidence and be beautiful, no matter what he number on the scale says. It’s important for people to stop referring to people as ‘fat’ with a negative connotation. It’s important because everyone has a heart and because the fat talks are dangerous to your mental, physical, emotional health.