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Harvard's ‘Love Your Body Day’ Features Dogs, Food, and Massages

Love Your Body Day
Cassandra S. Hastie '18 takes a photo of Karen M. Maldonado '18 during ECHO's Love

Students celebrated body positivity on Wednesday night in Ticknor Lounge during the annual “Love Your Body Day” — replete with fluffy dogs and relaxing massages — planned by student group Eating Concerns Hotline and Outreach.

The event offered therapy dogs, free food, a photo booth, and raffle prizes. For the first time, the event, which dates back to the 1970s, featured chair massages performed by employees from the Wellness Center.

“That’s one way to actually help people tangibly feel better about their bodies, is making their bodies feel better,” ECHO Co-director Jacob E. Schwartz ’20 said of the massages.

Other wellness-related groups staffed informational booths circling Ticknor Lounge, providing students with resources from Student Mental Health Liaisons, Harvard Recreation, the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, and nutritionists.

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Schwartz said the purpose of the event was to create “a space to come into a culture that has a lot of body negativity and talk about sharing and loving and honoring and respecting our bodies in different ways for different people.”

Student Mental Health Liaison Amira Song ’20 said she felt the event provided a space for students to learn more about the wellness resources on campus.

“Those who are struggling with body image or eating issues can come and feel like they’re not alone,” she said. “There’s a whole host of others struggling as well, and there are places you can go to for help.”

“It really means a lot to have an event that celebrates your body,” Song added. “You don’t really have to have a reason to celebrate. It’s your body — you should embrace it for what it is.”

Attendees said the event provided a good break from academic obligations.

Tony Shu ’21 said he saw the event as a “great opportunity to take some time off and just be intentional about relaxing and enjoying life here at Harvard.”

Another attendee, Sienna R. Santer ’22, said she was drawn to the event because of the free massages and said she felt Love Your Body Day provided an important break from studying.

“Our bodies take a lot of stress and wear over the semester, and I think just feeding our body good food, being around good people, good music, getting massages… it just reminds us to just take care of our bodies a little more,” Santer said.

Ariel E. Wahl, a fitness coordinator with Harvard Recreation who staffed one of the booths at the event, said exercise and physical activity can be beneficial to building body positivity.

“I think it’s important because it’s really easy to get held up in your rooms all winter long, and you're gonna be able to study better, sleep better, learn better if you have a chance to escape and move your body and sweat,” Wahl said.

ECHO is a student organization that aims to provide body image-related “nonjudgmental, nondirective peer counseling to individuals on campus,” Schwartz said.

“If people leave and feel that acceptance and cherish their own body and others’ bodies as well, whatever that means for them, I think that’s what we’d look at as a success,” he added.

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