Promoting Self-Love and Acceptance

Body Positive Warriors is on a mission to end the stigma surrounding weight and physical appearance. (Photo courtesy of Allison Westlund)

The pandemic is not stopping the Body Positive Warriors initiative. Body Positive Warriors is currently being held weekly over Zoom. Each week there is a new topic covered to help each and every member on their journey towards their own personal body positivity. 

Every meeting includes many activities which embodied a discussion of love and fear. The activities at each meaning directs a strong focus what it means to accept ourselves, accept our fears, and acknowledge how beautiful it is to love ourselves. These sessions help individuals accept their fears and replace negative thoughts with good ones. 

At these meetings and during their activities and workshops, it is asked that participants speak from experience instead of generalizing or sharing a story that is not personally yours to share. It is also encouraged that during the meetings certain things such as numbers (weight and size) are not used as they are stigmatized and can weigh heavily on some. 

Young adults receive pressure from the media, friends, and even family members to look a certain way. When young adults cannot meet these expectations, they put themselves down regardless of how unrealistic the expectations are. Some young adults will go to the extreme trying to achieve these unrealistic goals which is almost always unhealthy and sometimes even deadly. Body Positive Warriors strives to help every member cast out these types of negative thoughts before they turn into behaviors that can negatively impact the rest of their life. 

Weight loss (and weight gain) is regularly celebrated regardless of how it was achieved or if it was healthy for that specific person. Social media contributes to this idea because it promotes the message that you have to be a certain size to be deemed beautiful by the world. Society has come to accept this one-sided reality that is social media without taking into account the fact that you only see what any given influencer or public figure wants you to see. Nobody has a “perfect” life even if they might make it appear that way online.

A hatred for one’s own body often takes root at a young age and progressively gets worse and blooms as the pressures rise. Stan State English professor Kate Hope has worked with students as young as junior high all the way through to the college level.

Dr. Hope says, “A lot of times [high school students] don’t feel like there’s anybody else feeling the same thing they’re feeling. They don’t want to talk about it. . . In high school, they don’t know how to pretend to be confident yet.”

Although college students might have mastered a confident façade, that doesn’t mean that true and real confidence can’t be developed.

Hector Yerena (junior, English) shared how his self-image negatively affected him when he was growing up stating, “It was a problem that wouldn’t leave my mind so I couldn’t focus on other things.” Hector says that he is now “content with his body image,” which goes to show that although it might be a long hard battle it is very possible to overcome.

Body Positive Warriors cofounder Susan Brumm explained why the initiative was started. "I started this in order to help students to break free, to learn to love themselves and love their bodies, [and] to enjoy life and feel free to really engage with life,” she said.

“We stand up against the prevailing pressure from society, friends, family, and consumerism to look and be a certain way. We emphasize acceptance and love for self and for others,” Brumm added.

Body Positive Warriors was founded in 2018 and is offered for 8 weeks during the Fall and Spring semesters to provide assistance for any student who seeks it. Each meeting is cohesive and builds upon each other and it is recommended to attend as many meetings as possible.

New attendees are always welcome, regardless of how far into the semester it is, and it is all 100% confidential so that attendees can feel comfortable sharing stories that might be sensitive and private.

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