Acne, frizzy hair, big thighs, too many freckles; we all have something we don’t like about our appearances. It’s hard to look in the mirror every day and not become overly self-critical, and even harder to remember that we’re not alone in feeling insecure.
In the hopes of uniting the Seattle University student body through the topic of body image, the Health and Wellness Crew is putting together a zine—a small, self-published magazine—filled with student work on the topic. From Feb. 23-27, any student can contribute to the project by submitting a written or drawn expression of their thoughts on body image.
Senior Renae Russell, a member of HAWC, helped to come up with the idea for the zine.
“The original idea was to do a photo shoot where people would write a strength they had and take a picture, but I kind of wanted to dig deeper than that,” she said. “So I was thinking of social media and magazines—and how misrepresented body image is in magazines.”
The zine will act as a counter to typical beauty magazines seen on newsstands—those full of stick-thin models with unrealistically flawless skin and hair, which can be extremely destructive, according to Russell.
Junior Anna Thiel, graphic designer for Health and Wellness Promotion, will design the pages of the zine that aren’t submitted by students. She said she believes the topic is an important one to address, especially at this point in a person’s life.
“In college, a lot of people are really discovering themselves,” she said. “And body image is something that gets in the way of that.”
The week for submissions to the zine corresponds with the National Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Students are invited to come into the HAWC office that week any time during Monday-Friday office hours to complete their submissions, or they can submit their work online to stay anonymous. A link for online submissions will be on the HAWC Facebook event page for the zine.
“People can come and talk about body image and how they view it, and how they view themselves, or how they’ve gotten through something,” Russell said. “I think it’s a great idea, because people can express their views in their own way—whether that’s creatively or written out.”
Templates for the zine pages will be available in the HAWC office or online. Students are encouraged to submit poetry, other written works, drawings or whatever else they feel will convey their personal experiences with body image. Once all of the submissions are in, the HAWC will compile them in the zine.
“I’m really hoping that if [students] read the zine after its completion, they’re gonna realize that they’re not alone when they have these feelings of, ‘I’m not pretty,’ ‘I’m not gorgeous,’ ‘I’m not attractive,’” Thiel said. “I think most people at some point in their life feel that way, and it’s okay to feel that way.”
The HAWC is made up of students who are trained as peer health educators. One purpose of the group is to implement programs and awareness campaigns across campus, like the body image zine.
Senior Sydney Dale joined the HAWC this year to expand on her knowledge as a sports and exercise science major. She also works as a group fitness instructor at the gym on campus, and said her job as an instructor has made her more aware of how body image affects a myriad of people.
“When I stand in front of a class and I see people’s faces looking in the mirror, I can see on their faces what they’re thinking,” she said. “I think that students should feel like they’re not alone, and I think that this project will kind of help [that] make that realization.”
The zine is expected to come out mid-March, and will be available at various spots around campus.
“I feel like the SU community is perfect for this, and will be able to help anybody in need,” Russell said. “Body image affects us all, but it affects us all differently.”
Jenna may be reached at [email protected]