OPINION | Tulane’s Body Respect Week celebrates inclusivity and positivity

Maiya Tate, Senior Staff Writer

body respect week
Ashley Chen

This week at Tulane is Body Respect Week, a weeklong event filled with programs and talks about how to respect yourself and your body the best way possible. I’ve been on a long journey finding dignity for myself and how I look since I was a kid, and I’m still on it. Having an event like Body Respect Week is so important, especially in social circumstances where our main companion has been ourselves. 

So, what exactly is Body Respect Week? According to the Tulane Campus Health website, “Body Respect Week … will bring the Tulane community comprehensive, queer-inclusive, culturally specific, body-positive health events.  The language around our bodies and health can be confusing and oftentimes misleading. The goal for this week is to help Tulane students shift their thinking from having to love their body towards respecting their body.” Body Respect Week is a collaboration between multiple offices on campus, including Campus Health, New Student and Leadership Programs, The Carolyn Barber-Pierre Center for Intercultural Life, Fraternity and Sorority Programs and Campus Recreation. These offices are teaming up to help us ask ourselves important questions. These questions aren’t focused on how to change our body, but on how to help us reshape the way we think about our bodies, and how our bodies have helped us be who we are.

Body respect has been an issue I’ve struggled with since I was old enough to care about what other people think. Middle school was hard for me, because I didn’t look like everyone else. Even though we wore uniforms at school, mine obviously had to be bigger, and it always bugged me. I started not eating when I had dance recitals coming up, and if I ate lunch at all, it was a wimpy salad I brought from home. I hate salad. 

I’d go in and out of doing crazy things to help me lose weight periodically all through middle and high school, and I hated it every time. I was forcing myself to fit into a mold that I didn’t fit. I was even afraid to talk about fatness for years. My heart even skipped a beat writing that. But I realized in the second semester of my junior year that I didn’t want to live that way. I didn’t want to eat carrots when I hate carrots. I didn’t want to run miles for exercise when I could dance instead. I realized I needed to show myself respect for what I wanted. Otherwise I was going to be unhappy and too afraid to even look at myself in the mirror.

I’m still working on respecting my body. I’m working on learning how to not care about the sizes I wear, or the fact that most of the seats on campus are too small for me. One of the things that have been created in the past few years to help me on this journey is “I Weigh,” a company started by actress Jameela Jamil. Jamil created the instagram account @i_weigh after seeing an Instagram post of the Kardashians with their weights shown next to them. Jamil’s posts empowered thousands of other people to post similar things, showing what makes them up as people rather than how much they weigh. Jamil captioned this on her own instagram post, “I’m f***ing tired of seeing women just ignore what’s amazing about them and their lives and their achievements, just because they don’t have a bloody thigh gap,” urging others to follow the i_weigh account, and help her promote body respect and to help raise up people no matter what they look like.

Movements like this have started all over, and I’m so glad for it. They’ve helped me accept that I am more than the amount I weigh, and I am more than just a clothing size. I hope these movements continue to change people’s lives, as they’ve continued to change mine.

Find info about Body Respect Week here on the Campus Health Website!

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