Updated: Feb. 2, 2015 at 8:23 p.m.
The newest leader of GW’s sororities wants to use her clout to help improve body image perceptions across campus.
Panhellenic Association President Mollie Bowman is making February “Love Your Body Month” for the first time at GW, an initiative she hopes will improve the self-esteem of all students.
“It’s contributing to my overarching goal of healthy, happy, safe women who can be the best Panhellenic women they can be,” Bowman said.
Bowman added that she wants the program, which she said is not affiliated with the National Organization for Women’s campaign of the same name, to be the first of many this year focused on positive body image.
“I firmly believe that sororities are a jumping-off point for these other amazing organizations,” she said.
More than half of college-aged women said they feel pressure to be a certain weight, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
The Panhellenic Association also plans to donate a basket filled with nail polish, lotion and body-image-related posters to Martha’s Marathon, the raffle-based event held by the Residence Hall Association. Bowman said she’ll work with the Interfraternity Council and Multicultural Greek Council to include them in the month’s events.
On Feb. 13, Bowman will help set up a station on the H Street Terrace, where students will be able to write encouraging messages to their friends across campus that will then be delivered to them. Bowman added that she’s holding a social media campaign called “Love Your Selfie,” which will encourage students to take pictures of themselves and put them on social media with that phrase as a hashtag.
SPEAK GW, which promotes awareness of eating disorders, and Students Against Sexual Assault are also involved in the initiative, and will focus their efforts on coordinating events about how body image relates to eating disorders and types of sexual violence.
“People have a range of different appearances that all need to be respected,” said Ariella Neckritz, co-president of Students Against Sexual Assault.
Neckritz said her group will offer resources to students who have experienced trauma and encourage them to embrace “self-love.”
“A lot of people have trouble after assault, feeling like their assaults are really traumatizing, and having violence enacted on you can be hard on your self image,” she said.
Student Association President Nick Gumas has also pushed for his peer counseling program to include training students in how to talk about body image.
SPEAK GW will hold a week of events in February on eating disorder awareness, zeroing in on men and members of the LGBT community who have bulimia, anorexia and other eating disorders, said Laura Porter, the group’s president.
“You can never really hurt by focusing on positive body image,” she said.
Ellie Smith contributed reporting.
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the National Organization for Women had a monthly advocacy campaign called “Love Your Body.” The organization celebrates “Love Your Body Day.” We regret this error.