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Body Appreciation Week Returns Feb. 24

Body Appreciation Week Returns Feb. 24


Body Appreciation Week returns to SUNY Cortland on Monday, Feb. 24, encouraging campus community members to embrace their own unique physical attributes or “puzzle pieces” as organizers are referring to them.

“Appreciate the Pieces of Your Puzzle” is the theme for the 16th annual Body Appreciation Week series, devoted to promoting a positive self view of one’s body. The weeklong initiative runs through Sunday, March 1, and takes place in the Corey Union Function Room, unless otherwise noted.

All events are free and open to the public.

The schedule includes a dance workshop led by a self-dubbed “fat activist,” an open mic night featuring student performances and two keynote talks. Student-created work also will be on display in the Function Room from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, to Thursday, Feb. 27. That work includes a variety of presentations that encourage people to become allies with their bodies, rather than seeing them as their enemies.

“We feel that Body Appreciation Week should stand for accepting and appreciating the body that you have and being proud of that,” said senior Cassandra Brown, a full-time intern in the Health Promotion Office who organized the week’s events with senior Shannon McHugh, another full-time intern.

“It is important to us that not only students here at SUNY Cortland but whoever attends knows that it is perfectly acceptable to be yourself, in the body that you have,” McHugh said.

Body Appreciation Week’s events include:

Monday, Feb. 24: dancer and choreographer Ragen Chastain leads a dance workshop at 7 p.m. A self-described “fat person,” Chastain dances in partner competitions.

“We watched our first competition then immediately got a coach, started dancing seven days a week and started competing three months later,” said Chastain, who manages a blog titled “Dances With Fat.” It’s built around the idea that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not size dependent.”

“I started my blog to talk about my journey as a dancer with a ‘nontraditional’ body,” Chastain said.

At the dance workshop, she will teach students how to appreciate their bodies through the art of dance.

Tuesday, Feb. 25: an open mic night highlighting student talents takes place at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 26: Chastain returns to deliver a talk titled “The Positive Body” at 7:30 p.m. The Wellness Wednesday event will cover real options for health, happiness and high self-esteem.

Thursday, Feb. 27: A student speaker shares “There’s Beauty in Letting Go,” a personal tale, at 7 p.m.

The student work on display in the Function Room throughout the week includes pieces that shed light on individuals. This includes posters, paintings, PowerPoint presentations and poster board displays.

“The main purpose of the exhibit is to allow everyone to express themselves in their own individual way,” Brown said. “Also, another purpose is to be open-minded when thinking of the phrase ‘body image.’”

Body Appreciation Week also will be held in conjunction with the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority’s philanthropy project, which is aimed at fighting anorexia nervosa. The sorority plans to create t-shirts that will help bring awareness to the series, and its members will staff a table throughout the week in Corey Union.

College faculty and staff members are encouraged to donate $1 daily throughout the week in exchange for the ability to wear jeans to work. This year’s Body Appreciation Week fundraiser proceeds will benefit people affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Body Appreciation Week is a collaborative effort that receives support from several campus offices and groups. They include: Auxiliary Services Corporation; Campus Activities and Corey Union; Campus Artists and Lecture Series; the Counseling and Student Development Center; Recreational Sports; Student Activities Board; Student Health Service; the Health Promotion, President’s, Residence Life and Housing and Vice President for Student Affairs offices; and Delta Phi Epsilon, Alpha Phi Omega and Eta Sigma Gamma.

For more information, contact Catherine Smith, the College’s health educator, at 607-753-2066.