UNI SHAC presents “The Jean Project”

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  • With the help of social media and many body-positive influences, discussion about body positivity has become more widespread.

  • Inspirational messages are written on different sizes of jeans to help normalize the conversation around embracing body image and size.

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MEG GROVE, Staff Writer

UNI’s Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) is hosting “The Jean Project” from Monday, Feb. 27 to Friday, March 3 at Maucker Union. This project encourages students to accept and celebrate their body.

Jeans of all different sizes are up for display in Maucker Union. “It’s about accepting who you are in your jeans, accepting your size, accepting yourself in general,” said Kayla Kellogg, SHAC President. Uplifting messages such as “All bodies are beautiful” and “Beauty is on the inside” are written on the jeans as a reminder to viewers.

SHAC’s goal is to promote body acceptance, body positivity, body neutrality and body liberation. “Just really having students focus on what they love about themselves rather than what they think they need to improve,” said Kellogg.

The project was displayed in Maucker Union because of the traffic it gets every day. Many students go to Maucker to do homework, wait between classes and get food. “We wanted to make a statement,” said Kellogg. “We wanted to reach as many people as possible.”

SHAC set up a table on Monday, Feb. 23 in Maucker Union to inform students about the aim of the project. At the table students could find resources about wellness coaching, intuitive eating, fitness classes and information about the registered dietician on campus, Lisa Smith. Small flyers were handed out containing the message of the project and tips for a more positive body image.

Eva Bowlan, UNI custodian, took a break from her work to check out the project. “It teaches us to be okay with your size,” said Bowlan. “And for us not to judge other people because of their size.” Bowlan thinks this is a great message for students, saying, “I even took some pictures and sent it to my daughter. She’s a teenager and I told her I really like it and I wish they had this when I was younger.”

Body image refers to a person’s thoughts and feelings about their bodies. Many people, especially college students, struggle with their body image. 62% of women and 54% of men in their first year of college report having body image issues and/or struggled with disordered eating behaviors according to a study published in Eating and Weight Disorders in 2020. 

Social media has increased the number of people that struggle with body image issues. People compare themselves to people and bodies they see online, sometimes bodies that aren’t even real. This can lead to feeling negative about your body and can even lead to disordered eating. It’s important to remember that people present themselves in their best light and many of these photos are edited or have filters. 

“It’s a comparison game,” said Kellogg. “You see so many people that are living a life that you potentially want or desire. It’s hard to see the truth in social media.” Keeping a healthy relationship with social media helps with body positivity and body neutrality. A few tips to achieve a healthy relationship with social media are to unfollow accounts that don’t make you feel good or accounts you compare yourself with, take a break from social media, search for positive and uplifting content and remember that not all of the content online is completely real and unaltered. 

Kellogg shared a few tips on body positivity saying, “Find something every day that you love about yourself.” She also mentioned looking in the mirror and saying five things you love about yourself. “It’s supposed to help change your perception of yourself,” said Kellogg. “Really confirming those beliefs and finding good things that you really like will help overall.”

Follow SHAC on Instagram to stay updated on their events throughout the semester. The project will be up for a couple more days so be sure to stop by Maucker Union to check it out before it’s gone.

Remember, clothes are meant to fit you – you are not meant to fit into clothes.