By Michelle Pressé
Have you ever skipped going to the beach because you were uncomfortable wearing a bathing suit, or untagged yourself in a Facebook photo because you didn’t like the way you looked?
The University of King’s College Feminist Collective wants to help students embrace their bodies for what they are, instead of tearing them apart for what they aren’t.
“We want to cultivate a community of self-love on our campus,” says Emma Kenny, a second-year English student minoring in gender and women studies. “We want people to focus and think about why they love themselves.”
Kenny, who is also president of the collective, says they’re brainstorming ideas to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. The goal is to host a spoken word event and crafting session that will help people express themselves and feel good about their bodies.
“We’re constantly being told by the media that we’re not good enough,” says Kenny. “We want to put a stop to the idea that it’s necessary to be airbrushed to be beautiful, especially on campus.
“There’s a huge amount of self-hate that’s overheard in Prince Hall [King’s cafeteria] and the gym.”
Emma Morris says that empowerment starts with confidence. The second-year political science student and co-president of the collective hopes Women’s Day will help spread self-acceptance and confidence around the school.
“Loving your body for what it is helps carry the feminist movement forward by smashing those stereotypes of what a beautiful body is meant to be,” says Morris.
Their idea for an event for Women’s Day was inspired by the success of the collective’s first Be Your Own Valentine event.
On Feb. 12, members set up a table in the lobby of the Arts and Administration building to offer free condoms and pamphlets about sexual and mental health.
They also gave out free candy and handmade valentines that were left blank for students, staff and visitors to write a message about why they love themselves.
Many people were initially stumped when given a valentine to write themselves a compliment, which didn’t surprise Kenny, who has struggled with insecurity in the past.
“I’ve felt insecure about my weight for a long time,” says Kenny. “Trying to unlearn things that society teaches you through advertising that tells you there’s something wrong with you is hard. But you have to spend 24/7 with yourself, and you’re going to be miserable if you don’t like the person you’re spending all your time with.”
The Feminist Collective meets every Friday at 5 p.m. in the Manning Room in Alexandra Hall to discuss feminist, queer and mental health issues.