UH Student Shoshana Naftel writes on the Graffiti Wall.
On October 18 the Women’s Resource Center celebrated Love your Body Day. The day is meant to counter the unrelenting media onslaught of negative messages women receive about their bodies through advertising, movies, and pornography. Often these venues depict unrealistic images of women’s bodies, which cause many women to feel badly about their bodies in comparison. However, what many women do not know is that often these media depictions are not real and are the result of extensive airbrushing and other photographic manipulations. This female body dissatisfaction results in an economic boon for the cosmetic, weight loss, and plastic surgery industries.
Love your Body Day is a celebration of women and their bodies, no matter what the size, shape, or color. All women are beautiful. The Women’s Resource Center showed documentaries that expose the media manipulations of women’s bodies and the unrealistic expectations they provide, including Jean Kilbourne’s video, Slim Hopes. Also, student posters were displayed that were constructed by two sections of an Introduction to Women’s Studies class. The classes cut pictures out of popular, mainstream women’s magazines to expose many of the techniques used to devalue women’s bodies. Such techniques include the objectification of women’s bodies; using only one type of female body in advertisements, very thin; portraying only light-skinned women as models; making grown women look like young, naive girls; showing only portions of women’s bodies; equating food with sex and food with sinfulness and abstention with goodness; and equating smoking with being slim and weight control. Ironically, while intending to serve as bad and exploitive examples, the posters seemed to attract many male students who came in for a closer, and admiring, look.
The most exciting component of the day was the graffiti wall. Large sheets of butcher block paper were put on the wall and one question posed: What do you like about your body? Women, and men, wrote using markers on the wall what they like about their bodies. Since women are often very quick to list the things they hate about their bodies, the graffiti wall challenged women to think positively about their bodies. Some comments written on the wall include: I love my butt and eyes; I like my smile, my lips. I love me, period. I love my muscular legs that carry me through life. I love my collarbone, too! I love my hips. I love my eyes, hair and height. The Women’s Resource Center plans to make this an annual event, or better yet, a daily event so women can celebrate their bodies 365 days a year!