By Brianna Hidalgo
On Wednesday, February 26, Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and Students Helping to Achieve Positive Esteem (S.H.A.P.E) ran the Jars of Acceptance Event for National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) week, which helped encourage accepting attitudes about body image and self-esteem on campus.
NEDA week is a yearly national campaign from February 26 to March 4th that promotes eating disorder advocacy and provides resources for those who are interested in seeking treatment.
The event at the Student Union ballroom was organized by USG and S.H.A.P.E. It gave students the opportunity to decorate and paint a mason jar to fill with personal statements. The purpose of this was to reflect on what they accept about their body and identity and what they are struggling to accept.
Kasey Macedo, a committee member of USG Mental Health and Wellness who collaborated on the event, said students also had the option to submit an anonymous testimonial that was displayed in the background while students made their jars.
“To reinforce or promote the idea of body acceptance/self-acceptance they are written anonymously so anyone who writes one if it’s detailing a struggle or something that is personal to them,” Macedo said. “They don’t have to disclose their identity but it lets you really just embrace your struggles and your triumphs.”
According to Macedo, this is the first event of a series that USG has just started called #IACCEPT. Events towards the end of this month will be encompassing the idea of mental and body self-acceptance.
Freshman Willow Yang said she and a friend came to this event because they often bond over their struggles with body image and believe it’s important to have these resources available to students.
“It never hurts to talk more about mental health and bringing awareness to that,” Yang said. “Especially in a place like college where a lot of people feel vulnerable it’s a time when we’re questioning ourselves a lot so having these types of events is really important.”
Sophomore Johany Quiroz said the message this event brings is very important and it’s a great start to begin to have certain conversations about our bodies we tend to avoid.
“I think it’s not only good for me personally, but I think it’s a good thing to start having around campus trying to end stigmas around certain body types and diet culture,” Quiroz said.
UConn’s Student Health and Wellness have established an Eating Disorders Support Team providing services to students that include a medical evaluation, psychiatric and psychological evaluation, nutritional counseling and women’s clinic services, according to the Student Health and Wellness website.
Maia Smith, who represented S.H.A.P.E, said events like the Jar of Self Acceptance helps students find out what services are offered to them on campus.
“It’s important, first of all, to spread the message about eating disorders,” Smith said. “I feel like a lot of people don’t know that UConn has a lot of resources and what resources are the best to get treatment and how to help people and help your friends, so it’s really important that we have, especially this week, to share that with people.”