By: Taylor DeVille, Assistant Arts & Life Editor
The Body Project, a peer-led, body-acceptance program, will return to Towson Sept. 20 to combat body image-related issues like eating disorders and low self-esteem.
Jaime Kaplan, staff psychologist and coordinator of eating disorder services on campus, said that the program functions as a “group therapy discussion about body image, body image and society, how we look at ourselves as women through the lens of society and the actions we do [as a result].”
The Body Project was launched in 2012 and has been delivered to over 200,000 people at over 100 college campuses as well as high schools. With the help of Body Image Peer Educators (BIPE), a student-group that promotes positive body image, Kaplan is relaunching the Body Project after a brief hiatus.
Students who attend will complete two workshops set a week apart from each other. Led by two BIPE members who are trained in the program, the workshops involve verbal and written exercises that are designed to critically examine the negative body-related messages people receive from friends, family and the media.
“We talk about how we kind of engage and propel societal expectations, even if we don’t want to and even if we hate it. We’re still part of it,” Kaplan said.
One of the exercises involves using a whiteboard to write down typical words used to describe women. The goal is to examine how many of those words are appearance-based, and begs questions of what the perfect woman looks like in society and shows how many of those statements are contradictory.
“When I’ve done [the Body Project] with people at other universities, they seem really empowered,” Kaplan said. “I think people like to talk about this because it’s so relevant. I don’t know one woman who has never had a thought of ‘I don’t like my body.’ And that can range from having one though in her entire lifetime to being controlled by those thoughts.”
Other than the Body Project, BIPE will sponsor a few other campus-wide events this fall. Love Your Body Week begins Oct. 31 and will feature events like a clothes donation and “smash-the-scale,” which involves literal scale smashing. BIPE will also be seen around campus on No Diet Day Oct. 5. BIPE will hold more events in February during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
The workshop begins on Sept. 20 and runs until Nov. 11. A complete list of dates and times can be found online through the events calendar.
Kaplan leads a body image support group Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. For students interested in attending the support group, who want to schedule a consult or want to sign up for the Body Project, Kaplan responds to e-mail through firstname.lastname@example.org. If students are interested in applying to BIPE, they can visit www.towson.edu/counseling/peered/bodyimage.