UWF encourages students to ‘Love Every Body’

By Sydney O’Gwynn

Staff Writer

 UWF Active Mind’s president Jessica Mager explains the activity to an interested student on Tuesday in the Commons. The “Love Every Body” event is held annually during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Photo by Sydney O’Gwynn.

UWF Active Mind’s president Jessica Mager explains the activity to an interested student on Tuesday in the Commons. The “Love Every Body” event is held annually during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
Photo by Sydney O’Gwynn.

 

On Tuesday, University of West Florida students had an opportunity to shed negative self-images and celebrate their uniqueness at the annual “Love Every Body” event held in the University Commons.

The event, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., was sponsored by UWF’s Counseling and Psychological Services and featured a variety of different booths. Several organizations on campus, including Career Services, Health Services and the Peer Educators from the Wellness Center, participated in the event.

“I think this is just an awesome event,” said Victoria Weekley, a UWF sophomore psychology major. Weekley is a peer educator on campus who was working their group’s booth.

“We’re just here trying to get people to recognize their negativity and their insecurities, and then figure out what they think is unique and special about themselves,” she said.

Weekley said at their booth, attendees could write down a word on a piece of paper describing a trait they don’t like about themselves. Then they could drop that piece of paper in a jar labeled “See through to the truth; shed your negativity here,” and symbolically get rid of their insecurities. Finally, participants could take a button and write something unique and positive about themselves and wear it proudly for everyone to see.

“It’s a positive way to just get rid of it, face what’s going on, and then love yourself at the end,” Weekley said.

UWF Active Minds, a non-profit student organization, also set up a booth at the event. The goal of Active Minds is to reduce suicide by destigmatizing mental illness.

“We just try to make people feel more comfortable about it, like they can talk about it,” said UWF junior psychology major Jessica Mager. “Because that’s why people commit suicide, because they feel so alone.”

Mager is the president of UWF Active Minds. The group’s booth had two activities for participants. The first activity had attendees step on a scale; but instead of seeing numbers, they saw uplifting messages.

“[It’s] to reinforce the idea that the numbers don’t matter; it’s more about your health,” Mager said.

For the second activity, students wrote something positive about themselves on Styrofoam cups. Then the cups were collectively arranged and placed upside down on the floor in front of the booth to spell out the word “hope.”

“It kind of symbolizes that you can turn something negative into something positive,” Mager said.

Mager said the goal was to give attendees a better understanding of mental illness. She said she hoped her booth gave students a little pick-me-up.

“I just hope they get a little more positivity in their day,” she said. “And another reminder: Don’t worry about the scale, don’t worry about what people have said about you. You can turn it around.”

One interactive booth called “Share Your Care,” had students write how they take care of themselves and then color a drawing of a person. Another booth, sponsored by the Counseling and Psychological Services, taught students how to write positive affirmations about themselves. Interestingly enough, one booth even invited attendees to critique Barbie and alter her appearance to be more realistic.

“In my opinion, if students have a good sense of self-worth, they’re more likely to be successful,” April Glenn said. Glenn is a licensed mental health counselor for Counseling and Psychological Services. She has been in charge of the center’s outreach for the past three years and said the “Love Every Body” event has evolved.

“The event is about loving yourself,” Glenn said. “Initially it was about body image, loving your body, but we’ve kind of broadened the scope to loving yourself inside and out.”

Glenn said she hopes participants gain a sense of self-worth and learn to love themselves.

“Our goal here at Counseling and Psychological Services is to help students grow into their potential,” Glenn said.

For more information about the Counseling and Psychological Services, please visit the website. If you wish to learn more about or join UWF Active Minds, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.