WSA kicks off Body Love Week on Monday

Rachel Carroll, a junior majoring in creative writing, led a workshop in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Monday night that was designed to influence the way students think about their bodies as part of 'Body Love Week' Maya Dondonyan | Daily Trojan

Rachel Carroll, a junior majoring in creative writing, led a workshop in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Monday night that was designed to influence the way students think about their bodies as part of ‘Body Love Week’ Maya Dondonyan | Daily Trojan

The USC Women’s Student Assembly launched their annual Body Love Week, a series of events and panels that seeks to promote a healthy body image, on Monday. In previous years, the celebration of Body Love Week tended to be mainly educational, but this year, WSA wants to focus on the healing aspect of it and the creation of safe spaces for students to share their experiences.

Vanessa Diaz, the director of Body Love Week, said students deserve a place to heal on campus.

“Acknowledging that there was trauma in regards to the way you treated your body is the first step,” she said. “The next step is realizing that you deserve help.”

Critical of other “love your body” campaigns like those from Victoria’s Secret or Dove, Diaz wants to do more than just tell people that they should love themselves.

“What I wanted to do was not force people to love their body because that’s very difficult to do,” she said. “I want to see body love as a process, with good days and bad days and days in between. Something that we’re constantly working toward, which is a very difficult thing to do.”

Diaz also commented on how important it is to dismantle the standards of beauty that the nation has set for USC.


Maya Dondonyan | Daily Trojan

“[We need to] realize that students in this University are diverse,” she said. “What the country sees as a stereotypical USC student is a very fit and ‘hot’ student. That is very damaging to students that don’t see themselves like that.”

Monday’s kickoff event featured Rachel Carroll, a junior majoring in creative writing and gender studies, who led a writing workshop that focused on helping women realize that there are multiple steps to be taken in the process of learning to love their bodies.

“[The workshop] focuses on realizing that there are multiple avenues of approach for body love,” she said.

Carroll had the audience write three different pieces in which they had to analyze specific parts of their body in terms of how they found them useful, how they loved them or how they hated them. Jordan Fowler, undergraduate student body vice president, found the exercise helpful.

“Usually [when I get complimented] I credit it to something else or justify it, instead of just owning it. And this exercise made me realize that,” she said.

Diaz then led a discussion in which people shared what they thought body love meant.


Maya Dondonyan | Daily Trojan

“Body love is something that is always fluid for me,” Diaz said, “One thing that I’ve learned is that body love is a process.”

Shyann Murphy, executive director of the WSA, shared her own experience dealing with learning to love her body.

“I realized that the only images that I’d seen [were] images of women that were extremely thin and fit all these standard definitions of beauty that are not actually real,” she said. “Once I started seeing people who looked like me in real life, I realized that people who aren’t thin can also have good lives. Shifting that narrative was really good for me.”

Tessa Meurer, a sophomore majoring in global health, recalled an incident where someone defended her after a man catcalled her in the street.

“It reminded me that body love is remembering I’m worth more than what I look like,” she said.

WSA has events planned every night of this week. Tuesday’s “Tools for Healing” is a panel of speakers put together in collaboration with other organizations on campus, in which they will feature T-FFED, a Los Angeles-based organization that works to combat eating disorders.

Wednesday’s “It’s a Process” will be a screening of the movie Civil War Sickness, a short film about an individual taking steps to recover from an eating disorder. Thursday’s event is a ‘Self-Compassion Workshop’ in the Engemann Student Health Center in which they aim to provide students with the tools necessary to practice self-compassion. The closing event will be an open mic night in Ground Zero Performance Cafe Friday night.

For Diaz, the hardest aspect about planning the week’s events was having to face her own struggles with loving her body.

“In planning the week, I had to interrogate my own journey and that’s very difficult to do,” she said. “If I wanted to create those spaces for other people, I would have to create them for myself first.”

Though the WSA aims to help particularly women in their path towards healing, anyone is welcome.

“We want to make sure everyone can talk about their experiences and create and environment where everyone feels safe,” Diaz said. “Everyone can come to Body Love Week — body love is for everyone.”