The power of body positivity
College campuses, along with other academic institutions, are a breeding grounds for bullying, insecurity, isolation, and competition. Body positivity is challenging to obtain and maintain in the face of such negativity. But striving to love your body is an opportunity for growth.
Our campus is a place of diversity with a wide range of wellness programs and sports opportunities to ensure the inclusiveness of each individual on campus. Of course, there are students that fall through the cracks in this seemingly fail-proof system.
“I love my body. It’s not exactly where I want it to be yet but I love my arms and my abs,” reported Danny Jaser. Jaser is a junior and participates in the weekly zumba classes offered by the fitness and wellness programs.
“The campus attempts to accommodate and promote all body types by promoting diversity,” Jaser shared.
One of the evident challenges among our students in a place full of different body types, shapes, colors and sizes, is that many students find themselves comparing their own bodies and individual looks to everyone else around.
“My definition of body positivity is being in love with the way your body looks and overall feels,” said Diamond Melendez, who visits the gym on campus regularly.
“The campus makes me feel that my body fits in with the thousands of students that attend UAlbany. I have seen all kinds of different body shapes and sizes and all are beautiful, including mine,” she shared.
“Seventy percent of college students admit to being dissatisfied with their bodies,” said Dr. John Forsyth, who is currently teaching abnormal psychology here on campus.
Do you like all your attributes and features? Are you taking good care of yourself? These are just some of the questions that play into having a positive body image.
“Celebrate Every Body” Zumba is a class catered to all bodies and is a safe and comfortable space for anyone to join. This is one of the many ways the campus aims to support a healthy student body while including anyone who cares to join.
“The campus is definitely inclusive because it affects our bodies positively and negatively,” said Melendez. “We as humans note other people’s features unconsciously and we begin to compare ourselves and we never know how it can truly affect one’s self-love and self-image.”
Another common thread among the students was simply expressing that to them, body positivity is about well-being and overall health.
“It’s about knowing and rocking your own image,” said Jennifer Cabrera, vice president of one of the women’s club basketball teams. “It’s about knowing and loving yourself and making sure that you know you are beautiful in your own skin. I love my body, tattoos, stretch marks – all of it.”
With open recreational basketball, yoga, cardio, and group exercises available to all students, the campus strives to include any and everyone on the quest for students to have that positive image.
“Some of the areas that the campus could be more inclusive would be the sports section,” Cabrera said. “There’s a lot of the same people and body types in our mainstream and club sports and that’s not always inviting. It makes people feel uncomfortable when they don’t see anybody that looks like themselves and that directly affects how we feel about our bodies.”
“We can be more inclusive by having and hosting as many ‘come as you are’ exercising and sporting events,” Jaser said. “When people know that they are welcome to these sorts of events without necessarily having any experience or even the attire, it creates an atmosphere where we are promoting our own body positivity and encouraging those around us to do the same without the judgement.”
What’s most important is that a healthy body is both a work of art and a daring fashion statement. Having a positive body image and a healthy mind to match is not only beneficial to ourselves, but also it spreads and promotes a healthy image for all of us.