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Student forms program to help spread body positivity

Julie Kelly, exercise and sports science graduate assistant, held an event at the Rec promoting body positivity.
Julie Kelly, exercise and sports science graduate assistant, held an event at the Rec promoting body positivity.
Photo by: Jamie Dorsey | Staff Photographer

One Bobcat has started a body positivity program in hopes of being a voice of guidance for students who are struggling with body image.

Julie Kelly, exercise and sports science graduate assistant, is helping her peers develop self-confidence by sharing her story.

“I went through six or seven years of my life where I was super underweight and I didn’t know how to exercise or eat right, and I was so self-conscious of everything I did,” Kelly said.

Kelly said it is important to spread her message, because other people can be going through the same issues she did.

“I think that struggling with that for so long was such a huge part of my life and it really influenced my vision on overall body image and what it means to be confident,” Kelly said. “My journey has made me want others to realize the same thing I did, to be happy in our own skin, and accept and own our flaws.”

Christian Lofton, English education sophomore, said it is important for fitness instructors to help show others how to love their body and teach their students how to accomplish fitness goals in a healthy way.

“Until this semester, I was constantly worried about how my body looked, and it consumed so much of my joy and energy,” Lofton said. “So, when Julie told me about the body image panel, I just had to participate.”

Kelly started a weeklong event called “beYOUtiful Bobcats” at the student recreation center. The event took place April 17-21.

The project aims to raise awareness and help spark the conversation for people who are struggling with body image or confidence.

Kelly started a similar project while getting her undergraduate in New Jersey and decided to bring the idea to Texas State. She introduced this project last year when she made it a goal to expand the wellness program on campus.

One component to the weeklong project is a body image fit talk.

“There is going to be a panel of group exercise instructors that are going to be asked questions about their personal struggles and successes with body image,” Kelly said. “This is a really great opportunity for the instructors to show participants and students that everyone has flaws and everyone has something that they are insecure about.”

Sarah Jimenez, health and fitness management junior, spoke at the event’s panel for the second year in a row.

“I decided to be a speaker again, because I feel this is a conversation that needs to be ongoing and become more normalized,” Jimenez said. “This isn’t a one and done event for me.”

Kelly believes spreading this message among college students is especially important because of societal and media influences.

“Students have a lot on their minds and there are also a bunch of insecurities that come along with all of that,” Kelly said. “I think there are all these images on students’ minds of what they are supposed to look like and supposed to be doing, so I think they are prime targets to hit with good messages.”

Jimenez said she wants everyone to feel comfortable sharing emotional and physical journeys in regards to body image.

“Social media and TV screens are consistently filled with messages that a perfect body is one size, and health is consuming as few calories as you can, but that is all false,” Jimenez said. “Health is fueling your body and mind with respect and nourishment.”

Kelly said if students develop good thoughts and confidence while in college, they will carry that with them throughout their entire life.

“Ultimately this programs message is to forget about the mirror and what society expects you to be and just feel comfortable and confident in your own skin, and recognizing your flaws as beauty,” Kelly said. “Even if it just means that the one day they were in a group exercise class they thought something good about their body, then I’ll feel that our program was a success.”

After years of struggling with her own body image, Kelly said she has finally found a way to be happy with her body and help others going through the same issues she once did.

“I have finally found this talent of being happy and healthy and I can now say that I love the skin I am in right now, including my flaws,” Kelly said.