Applying Health to Love Your
Westridge Peer to Peer
The official logo for Love Your Body Week
By Maya L.
February 26, 2019
Every February, Westridge’s Peer-to-Peer organizes Love Your Body Week—an event that encourages a positive outlook on body image—but this year, it’s a bit different. In the past, Love Your Body Week has been a time for students to nurture positive body images. The event also falls around National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which has been intentional. However, this year, Peer-to-Peer is steering focus away from eating disorders to a broader concept of self-love.
Dr. Jim Holland, advisor for Peer-to-Peer said, “Peer-to-Peer got some resistance from other students to the name of Love Your Body Week—that it tried to coerce people into something that they may not feel comfortable with,” said Dr. Holland. As a result, the event has been renamed “Love Beyond Your Body Week,” with a new emphasis on self-compassion rather than body image.
Dr. Lisa Carruthers, school psychologist as well as a co-advisor of P2P, thinks discussing issues like these is vital to the success of Love Beyond Your Body Week. “We're hoping to create conversation and places where there can be vulnerability about something that matters,” she said. “Part of the idea of having this public event is to try to initiate conversations that might otherwise not happen.”
However, some students believe that certain aspects of body image are not discussed as much as they should be, and that taking attention away from issues surrounding health would only affect girls negatively. “I love Love Your Body,” said a student who has asked to remain anonymous. “I think it's a great thing—it really helps people accept their body image and their body shape. But I think we don't put enough emphasis on health—specifically in the Commons and when it comes to the physical education program. Because it’s like... Yes, accept your body—love who you are—but also don't eat a bunch of junk food all the time. People shouldn't have the ability to shame you for what you eat or what you wear or whatever. But I think we need to inform our students. Loving your body also means taking care of it.”
Coach Melanie Horn, Director of Athletics, acknowledges that this topic is a touchy one. She thinks that there should be a balance between loving your body and living a healthy lifestyle, but a student should not have to fulfill a certain set of expectations to be allowed to love herself. “The mind-body relationship is very important, and I think one of the things that athletics does and physical education [does] for student-athletes at Westridge is help with wellness. It's all about cardio-respiratory activity—getting your heart rate up and having healthy habits going forward so you can enjoy a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “I think we all find that we have body flaws, and how we address that I think is really important. Throughout one's life, the body fluctuates. So how [do you] maintain your sense of self and have pride in yourself even if your body is not quite meeting your expectations? But I think that's the point. Your body shouldn't meet a set of expectations. Your body is you, and you gotta embrace you.”
Having conversations like these around health and body image can be sensitive, so Dr. Carruthers asks for students to approach the topic with an open mind. “I would ask that students approach [Love Beyond Your Body Week] with openness as to what they learn and how they might be challenged, whether or not you might do well already,” she said. “I would want to encourage a posture of openness and a posture of willingness to hear from their peers about this issue.”
“I think people need to look at the glass half full,” said Coach Horn. “I mean, they have to appreciate the gifts that they have. You can't be upset about the gifts you don't have or it's gonna be a really long life. You gotta be appreciative of what's been given to you and use it in a way that's to your advantage and do what you can.”
Events like Love Your Body, or, as it is now called—Love Beyond Your Body—attempt to create spaces for conversations to exist, even if people do not always agree. Regarding issues of body image alongside health, the community has a vast range of differing opinions, but differing opinions are needed in order for conversations to happen.