Discussion of Body Image is the Main Course at COVE’s Friday Lunch

Women, and one brave man, spoke candidly about health and body image at the Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (COVE) lunch on Friday, February 27. The discussion ranged from eating disorders and what being a “fit” campus really means, to specific ways for women to overcome their low self-confidence.

This was one of a series of informal Friday conversations that the COVE is hosting on topics of importance to the Colgate community. Other recent topics have included relationship abuse and issues pertaining to the environment.

COVE student interns junior Katrin Murano, junior Rachel Greenburg and senior Jihan Jude are in charge of putting on “COVE Fridays.” These lunches alternate Fridays with the “Doing Well by Doing Good” lunch series.

The lunches are intended to raise awareness among the student body about the COVE and some of the issues that it tackles. Jude says that the lunches are going to be less COVE-centric and focus a little more on self-reflection and campus impact. They are striving to have a diverse group of students attend the lunches.

The lunch on health and body image was one of the best turnouts they have ever had, with about 20 people in attendance. In the spirit of health and body awareness month, Peer Health Educators junior Sam Horn and sophomore Hilary Hursh helped facilitate the lunch on body image. Peer Health Educators is a new SGA-recognized group with the goal of tackling various under-addressed health issues on campus.

The Peer Health Educators came into existence as a reaction to a perceived lack of resources available for women with eating disorders. According to the group, there has been minimal discussion about body image on campus in the past. The decision to have Peer Health Educators facilitate a COVE lunch signals the COVE’s willingness to tackle new, more personal, issues.

People discussed the true meaning of loving one’s body, binge eating, anorexia, the movement against obesity and the lack of ability to trust the food at Colgate. Women spoke openly about diets, body image and their personal experiences.

Women sympathized with one another over their constant battles to lose weight and gain confidence — be it by learning to talk more openly about their vaginas or by standing naked in front of mirrors more often.

The lone male in attendance chimed in that men simply do not think about their bodies as much as women do, and that women worry more than they need to.

One woman brought up the fact that “fat talk” (talking about your body in a negative light) needs to stop being normalized on campus. Being a “fit” campus, she said, should not mean going to the gym compulsively and dieting all the time.

Hursh and Horn introduced the topic of discussion, and interjected with occasional questions as the discussion progressed to keep the group on track. The discussion was fast-paced and did not require much facilitation, though, as students seemed eager to share their opinions and listen to one another.

Hursh pointed out after lunch that everyone always has a lot to say about the problems — an observation that was manifest during the discussion of body image — but that the hard part is coming up with solutions. She ended the lunch with her hope that the Colgate community would continue talking about body image, and that eventually the time would come when everyone can love their bodies.

Everyone at the lunch agreed that body image is a problem on college campuses, and the students were eager to have an opportunity to voice their concerns. The lunch went over its allotted hour and girls were staying after to discuss how to reverse the normalization of “fat talk” on campus.