By Becky Woolf
WORTHy Bodies is a focus group for Women’s Organization on Rights to Health at the University of Michigan. During the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health and social connection have been unmet needs for many, especially college students, who are under immense academic pressure from the isolated online learning environment. Our project’s goals were to promote mental health, personal well-being, and to raise awareness of body image and promote body positivity. Body dissatisfaction has become a serious mental health challenge due to media, stigma, and unreasonable and non-inclusive expectations.
We wanted to post about topics related to well-being and body image to normalize different bodies and promote wellness and feelings of belonging. Our social media campaign included research information on these themes, such as Women in History, Models of Consent, Eating Disorders, Cultural Appreciation and Appropriation, Transgender Identity, Culture and Nutrition, Myth-busting Diet Culture, and more. In addition to social media, we also invited two doctoral students at the University of Michigan to talk with interested individuals in virtual Speaker Events about topics surrounding body image and well-being. The project also included social events: a Wellness Cooking Event to promote happy and healthy eating, a Yoga Event to provide students with a 50-minute destress session during finals, and Care Packages to encourage self-care and wellbeing during the stress of final exams. These initiatives centered around our goals of body image education and inclusive social connection during a time when isolation and mental health are significant challenges.
All bodies are beautiful and should be respected. Furthermore, it is important that we all understand that we do not know what other people are feeling or experiencing. We must always be accepting and kind of each other and especially surrounding sensitive topics like body image. The WORTHy Bodies project encouraged these learnings and themes through both educational and social mediums. Finally, we hope our content presents a message that encourages cultural understanding and appreciation and promotes the acceptance and WORTH of all bodies.