This week the student support group Peer-to-Peer hosted its annual Love Your Body Week, with a special focus on how the ongoing pandemic and remote learning have impacted student’s body image. Through a series of virtual events including an Upper School Town Meeting, an all-school Big & Little Sister self-portrait activity, and optional lunchtime meetups, Peer-to-Peer created safe spaces to explore how the pandemic has changed the way we think about our bodies.
“Only interacting with people online has both positive and negative impacts on body positivity, so we wanted to give students an opportunity to explore how remote learning has changed the way they think about self-esteem,” said Peer-to-Peer leader Sosi D. ’21. “Love Your Body Week in freshman year was the first time I realized I wasn't alone in my struggle to find self-acceptance. I’d never talked about self-esteem and body image at school before, and it encouraged me to find support within the Westridge community.”
Peer-to-Peer leaders read anonymous testimonies during the Upper School Town Meeting before opening the floor to anyone who wanted to share their thoughts and experiences. One anonymous testimonial offered this advice: “Treat yourself like you would treat an eight-year-old version of you. If an eight-year-old you said, 'I’m chubby in my stomach and I don't like it,' what would you say? You would say 'Well, that part of you keeps you warm and holds all the best foods that you love!" You would treat your eight-year-old self with kindness and understanding and positivity, so why not treat your high school self like that too?”
To inspire conversation during the open mic portion of the Town Meeting, Peer-to-Peer posed the following questions:
- How have coronavirus and online learning impacted your relationship with your body?
- What strategies do you use to feel comfortable and confident with your body?
- How do you take care of your physical health while isolated?
- If you play a sport, how have you adjusted to practices being cancelled? How has this impacted your relationship with your body?
- Is there a distinction for you between body positivity and body acceptance?
“Girls tend to get a lot of messaging about their bodies and what society finds to be ‘attractive.’ Love Your Body Week is an opportunity for us to come together and carve out time to talk about these messages and how they impact our feelings of self-worth,” said Dr. Carruthers, director of counseling and student support. “We are seeking to foster a community that can have these hard conversations with kindness and support. I hope that students know that they aren’t alone, whatever they are facing.”