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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

All you need is love [your body week]

This week, students might feel a little extra affection towards their body as The Feminist Action Coalition (FAC) has put together Grinnell’s annual Love Your Body Week (LYBW). FAC collaborates with other student groups on campus to deliver a week chock-full of events to encourage student positivity surrounding their bodies and sexual expression. Kicking off the week was Active Minds’ mini dance party, complete with mirrors for students to draw and scrawl what they love most about their bodies, and this Saturday there will be a much larger party, without the mirrors, but full of sex appeal: Drag Show.

love your body

While this week always includes time-old favorites like the Drag Show, LYBW is far from static. Anna Banker ’15, co-leader of FAC with Devon Gamble ’15, explained that FAC wants to know how LYBW can continuously improve.

“We’re trying to get more and more inclusive and incorporate as much feedback as we can,” Banker said.

However, creating a more inclusive week proved more difficult than FAC had anticipated.

“We thought it’d be valuable to have the insights of groups besides the feminists [of FAC] talking about body positivity, and we thought that maybe that would attract more students from different walks of life on campus to take part in the week and have their voices heard,” Banker explained.

The promise of an inclusive week hinges on the involvement of diverse groups across campus.

“We wanted to have some discussions but we felt uncomfortable, as two white women, potentially trying to lead discussions on issues of race and disability. We felt that wouldn’t be appropriate without the collaboration of other groups,” she said.

Banker also explained that this push for a more inclusive LYBW is in part a response to the reaction that many groups of color had on campus following last year’s LYBW.

Without the help of MLC (Multicultural Leadership Council) groups, FAC took matters into its own hand and sponsored a professor discussion panel. The point of the discussion was to focus on the implicit factors that play into body image conversations, such as disability, race and eurocentrism.

While the discussion panel did not have the time to fully unpack the critical issues it presented, panelist Theresa Geller, English, took the title of the week itself to chore. She addressed the “imperative nature” of the wording, which suggests that everybody must fully love their body, problematizing the love/hate binary that often emerges during LYBW discourse.

While Banker admits that one event hardly begins to cover the level of inclusivity that LYBW should maintain, she is optimistic.

“Hopefully next year we can have several more panels … or discussions from MLC groups,” she said. “Hopefully it’ll encourage people to work across group lines.”

The new group “Safe, Sane, Consensual,” dedicated to sex-positive views of BDSM, made its debut during LYBW after it was formed by Scott Olson ’15 early last semester.

“[The group] provide[s] Grinnellians with a space for open and frank discussion and education about BDSM, kink, fetish, and other aspects of sexuality that are marginalized, stigmatized, or otherwise erased from our other discussions and education about sex,” Olson wrote in an email.

Olson also explained how the addition of a Safe, Sane, Consensual event to LYBW is not only productive towards a more inclusive week, but also remains very relevant when considering any discourse on body image.

“What Safe, Sane, Consensual has to offer is a means by which all bodies (and the people who inhabit them) can be conceived of as erotic, sexy, and attractive regardless of their gender, sex, size, age, race, etc.,” Olson explained in his email. “It provides a framework for attraction and desire that doesn’t need to be predicated on some bodies being inherently more ‘loveable’ than others.”

Also new are a Figure Drawing Workshop and increased involvement by the campus mental health group, Active Minds.

Daria Brosius ’15 is co-leader of Active Minds, hosting the mirror-writing event and the bonfire activity on Thursday. She explains why Active Minds decided to take a larger role this year as opposed to years past.

“As part of the closing exercise in student staff training this year, we wrote down issues that we wish we’d been more informed about and the biggest issues that came up was body issues and eating disorders,” said Brosius, also the Student Advisor for Read 2nd. “Grinnell is a very open place, but it can also be not necessarily welcoming to different body types.”

With Active Minds’ increased involvement this year, there is hope that other groups will up the ante and participate more fully in future Love Your Body Weeks.

Participation at these events is just as important as hosting, and luckily, LYBW is still not over. Today will be the drag photo shoot sponsored by Gogo from 7 to 10 p.m. in Loose Lounge, on Saturday from 2 to 3 p.m. is the drawing workshop and, of course, Drag Show will be in the Harris Center Saturday night from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.

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