Yasmin Tadjdeh, News Editor

Last week, George Mason University celebrated Love Your Body Week.
The week, which was hosted by the Eating Disorders and Positive Body Image Awareness Taskforce, aimed to encourage students to love themselves no matter what they look like.

“Formerly known as Positive Body Image Awareness Week, Love Your Body Week coincides with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week,” said Assistant Director of the Office of Alcohol, Drug and Health Education Danielle Lapierre. “The taskforce decided to take a more positive approach to the week, encouraging students to love their bodies, love themselves and recognize that all bodies are beautiful.”

“From a very young age, both boys and girls are exposed to negative body images and body expectations from the media, and these images can create unhealthy and unrealistic expectations for their own body ideals,” said Lapierre.

“[Our] popular culture is permeated with unrealistic expectations,” said Ruthie O’Donnell, a junior economics major. According to O’Donnell, these unattainable expectations promote unhealthy body images in many people.

During Love Your Body Week, students were able to visit kiosks in the Johnson Center where they could learn about having a better body image. According to the OADHE website, “Students can express their own feelings and thoughts about their own bodies by writing messages on paper jeans that are hung at the kiosk, shred negative media messages and have an opportunity to play our positive body image version of Magnetic Poetry.”

Students were also invited to attend events such as a presentation by Jessica Costeines, the author of beYOUtiful, a book in which, according to the OADHE website, students can learn to love their bodies the way they are.

“The presentation by author Jessica Costeines was inspiring and really encouraged students to love themselves and be confident just as they are,” said Lapierre. “She spoke about her experiences with body image issues, [which] are illustrated so wonderfully in her book beYOUtiful.”

Students were also encouraged to participate in “Operation Beautiful.” “This year, we took part in a new project called ‘Operation Beautiful,’” said Lapierre. “Students were invited to write inspiring positive body image messages on post-it notes.

“Some examples included, ‘Your eyes are gorgeous’ and Damn, you’re hot!’ The notes were then placed in random locations on campus, like bathroom mirrors and bulletin boards.”

To some students, the week was a success. “I think that the media [promotes unhealthy body images] especially in the film and fashion industries,” said sophomore psychology major Inderdeep Dhillon. “All you see on the covers of magazines are skinny celebrities or models, and the same in films.

“Also, when an actress loses weight you see her getting more film and television deals than before . . . I think that [Love Your Body Week] does help students feel better about themselves and the way they look [in a society such as ours].”

Other students, however, only partially agreed with Dhillon. “I think it’s wonderful that Mason is encouraging people to view themselves in a loving way,” said O’Donnell. “But I think it calls out to a deeper issue: Why should we ‘love ourselves?’

“Because we all have an inherent dignity and worth. “I wish Mason and the Office of Alcohol, Drug and Health Education would point to that, instead of telling women to love themselves simply because they are beautiful. They are beautiful, but they are also so much more.”