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Students Flock to Empowering Painting Event

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Over 50 students lined up early in the Campus Center to secure their spot in a University at Albany painting event on Thursday that focused on body positivity, de-stressing, and self-empowerment.

The event, “The Best Part of Me,” was centered on how students feel in their bodies and their diversity by encouraging them to paint the part they feel the most positive about.

After being unable to paint in an event the previous week because of a lack of space, some students arrived early so they would be guaranteed a spot.

Last week, Ashley Mensah, came to the sexuality month painting with her friends. However, Mensah said, “The line was so long and we didn’t get to get in, so we came early so that we could get in this time.”

Another student, Dalia Yan, noted that she came early because the lines for the painting event last week were long. Referring to the current event, Yan said, “I got here at 7:30. The lines are crazy. Last week was crazy.”

In terms of space for the event, sophomore, Rosemary Acosta, recommended having the event in a bigger venue such as the campus ballroom.

“I feel like a lot of people are interested in painting,” she said.

One of the people facilitating the event, Vivian Hwang, from Counseling and Psychological Services commented that smaller settings fit the event’s purpose because they help the vibe of de-stressing.

Viewing the event as a way to de-stress, Acosta also came with her friends and said, “I think painting is a stress reliever in general.”

As part of Celebrate Every Body week at UAlbany, the event was one of several to help students de-stress and promote caring for their bodies.

Hwang set the tone of the event by encouraging students to think beyond their bodies and more on how they feel in them.

In a guided meditation, Dr. Heidi Wright encouraged students to get in touch with their discomfort. Wright instructed students to visualize self-love that “needs to shine on those places of tension.”

This year, Feb. 26 through Mar. 4 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

The incidence of new cases of eating disorders has been increasing since 1950, according to the National Eating Disorder Association.

However, the university wanted to focus on the positive aspect of celebrating bodies because “it’s a more inclusive message,” according to Hwang.

She said that the painting activities have been popular, and described the event as “a nice combination” of painting and adding in the body image aspect.

Focusing on the positive aspect is a way to reach the broadest audience, according to Hwang.

On the event’s message, students had mixed views. Some favored the positive approach to body image, and some thought the focus should be more on awareness about eating disorders.

Acosta, a public health major, described herself as a positive and confident person. She said she favors the positive approach over “a negative connotation like eating disorders.”

Similarly, Johanna Hernandez said, “When you’re going through something, it’s nice to be surrounded by positivity.”

Hernandez described her inclination toward positivity in her “look good, feel good” mantra by saying that she dresses nice on Monday and Friday to start and end each week well.

Others favored an emphasis on eating disorder awareness.

Having recovered from an eating disorder, Monica La Borde said it’s important to know the signs.

“When you know the signs, it’s easier to help someone out,” she said.

Lauren Hosbedales also favors awareness as she said, “I think there’s a lot that hasn’t been said about eating disorders and what it means to have one.”

But in terms of body positivity, students painted parts such as their hair, eyes, feet, or heart.

Chaz Blackwood painted his heart because he said it is the part of his body that is the most expressive. He said that regardless of whether it’s on an emotional or visual level, “how you feel definitely impacts how you physically look.”

Some students opted for a different objective and felt more comfortable painting suns, moons, and flowers instead of body parts.

In addition to arriving half an hour early, many students stayed half an hour after the end time to touchup their paintings and take part in a group photo.

Toward the end of the event, which was inspired by the book, “The Best Part of Me,” Wright and Hwang raffled off a book and a fitbit.

After displaying the book, Wright had said, “We’re going to ask you to get inspired by this.”



Elise Coombs, a Syracuse native, is the editor-in-chief of the Albany Student Press. She is the co-Vice President of the UAlbany Mock Trial team, a member of Presidential Honors Society, and a peer mentor for the pre-law section of Writing and Critical Inquiry. After her time at UAlbany, she plans to go to law school and become a First Amendment lawyer.

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