September 19, 2019 | 47° F

Students channel body positivity, design bras for #LikeAGirlWeek

Photo by Elizabeth Leoce |

The energy was all about support at Katzenbach Hall on Tuesday night, and not just in the name of sisterhood. Katzenbach Hall on Douglass campus celebrated #LikeAGirlWeek by turning bras & briefs into blank canvases. Not only was there an array of art supplies and refreshments, but there were guest speakers that led thought-provoking discussions on stigmatized topics of feminine beauty. 

Hosted by the many dedicated Resident Life Assistants of the DRC, they shared what it truly means to be a part of a family and how living in an all-girl residence hall makes them feel at home. 

“This event is about teaching girls to feel confident in their own body and loving who they are. It is also about learning what DRC is and having a sense of community. DRC is my home, and this event is welcome to anyone who feels empowered to show off who they are,” said Uchenna Achebe, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “DRC opened my eyes to things I didn’t know about myself, and I am forever thankful. Hopefully, this event inspires others to be kind and even make a new friend.”

Inspired by the body-positive lingerie campaign #AerieREAL, the event brought many guest speakers, including Rutgers own Aerie Ambassadors Amanda Gaglio, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, Tinah Ogalo, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, and Cassidy Wiltshire, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. The women led a presentation on the importance of being true to yourself and real, physically and emotionally. 

"We promote body positivity across campus and encourage both men and women to be unedited. Just like the Aerie models. They pose untouched, which symbolizes strength and honesty. We want to be role models by presenting self-love and girl power. It is all about loving the real you," Wiltshire said.

The event highlighted the importance of finding healthy role models at Rutgers to look up. Being true to yourself is what the event at Katzenbach was all about, and the students who attended left feeling inspired. Loving yourself when we are at this vulnerable age is so important, because it means you will grow into a more confident and powerful person.

Nicole Peck, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, explained why she appreciates Rutgers Residential Life for hosting this event. 

“When I first came to college, I was scared about gaining weight, and I didn’t know how to accept my body. Through this event, I learned how to love who I am. I am 100 percent for feminism and what it stands for. Females supporting females is what DRC is all about: empowerment and equality,” Peck said.

Learning to accept who you are and how your body works was also a large part of the Bras and Briefs event. Health Outreach, Promotion and Education (HOPE) came out to discuss the cruciality of practicing safe sex and what it means to give a breast self-exam. HOPE is an active-learning, student-centered unit within Rutgers health services. After giving a thorough explanation of what a breast exam is and how a mammogram works, representatives from the organization emphasized how performing these exams is a great way to catch any early signs of cancer, as catching it early could be more effective in treatment success. Not every cancer can be found this way, but it is a critical step you should take for yourself. HOPE also discussed how to use a condom, where to store them, what an STD is and when and where to get a pap smear. Taking the first step toward understanding your body is the best way to embrace it. 

A supportive institution that HOPE brought to light was the Pride Center in Highland Park. The mission of the Pride Center is to provide comprehensive programming and access, which fosters the health of the LGBTIQ community, and to increase public acceptance through education and outreach. Having a friendly face who is sensitive to your needs is essential when it comes to body positivity. By having access to this local organization, it provides a safe and secure place for those who need it.

We live in a world where people make assumptions about women strictly by the clothes they wear or the purses they carry. After attending the Bras and Briefs event, students were reminded that there is so much more to a woman than that. As a woman in college, embracing who you are is key to a healthy mind, body and soul, and spreading love throughout your friends and your residence hall can be so rewarding. Through creativity and discussion, event goers realized that lingerie can and should be more than about sex, and although it can be sexually appealing, lingerie should not be something to be ashamed of, but rather to be empowered by. 

Elizabeth Leoce

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