Triota feminist club celebrates second annual Self Love Week

If you visited the Recreation Center on Cal Poly’s campus Monday night, you may have noticed sticky notes sprinkled throughout the gym; at the entrance gates, next to mirrors, above scales in the women’s locker room. More of them were stuck at eye level along the Starbucks line and in various bathrooms on campus.

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These were the loving work of members of Cal Poly’s Women’s and Gender Studies Honor Society and Feminism Activism club called Triota, who celebrated their second annual Self Love Week this February 26 to March 3rd.

“We’re trying to bridge the idea of [feminist] theory and activism, because there’s no theory without activism and there’s no activism without theory,” said Triota club president, fourth year Psychology major Zulema Aleman.

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photo courtesy of Zulema Aleman

Aleman is a Mexican-American, first generation student, and has been a part of Triota since her freshman year. She is involved in many activist groups on campus and also works for Safer, where she builds curriculum for undocumented students and leads “Let’s talk Sex” on campus, which is a monthly series about sexuality and communication and consent in relationships.

“It’s really interesting getting to work with different types of people and in different types of cohorts, and at the end of the day we kinda’ have similar goals where we want a better future for everyone,” she says.  

Triota kicked off their annual Self Love Week with a Sunday night social, where they indulged in pasta while writing positive messages on post it notes to stick in places where people would take a moment to read them and be reminded that, yes, they ARE worth it and they ARE beautiful exactly the way they are.

Self Love Week hosted many other events, such as “Cuties & Compliments,” where they handed out cutie mandarin oranges, granola bars and of course, compliments to students in the UU, and a photo booth on Dexter lawn where they gave passersby the opportunity to take a photo with a sign on which they could write “why their body is a good body.”

Self Love Week was created last year, after many of the Triota board members realized that even though they all had different body types, they had all struggled with body image. The week was an opportunity to promote body positivity.

“Coming to this campus as someone who is fat, I realized that I wasn’t comfortable with myself,” Aleman said. “All the time I saw people who were the same body shape, who were like, ‘We’re gonna go hiking. We’re gonna go to the REC… I can’t eat this, it has too many carbs.’”

“That’s fine, you should be looking after yourself, you should definitely look out for your health,” said Aleman, but Self Love Week wanted to encourage girls to love their bodies and have a good time in their bodies in a way that didn’t revolve around eating a certain amount of calories or going to the gym a certain amount of times.

This year, Self Love Week became more about self care for activists.

After the election of President Trump, Triota has been much more active on campus, speaking out for the threatened rights of women.

“It’s not a secret that any of us don’t like Trump in Triota,” said Aleman, “Our activism has taken a huge toll on all of us and we kind of wanted to have a week where we celebrated one another and really pushed self care, because a lot of time it falls on the activists community, that is so small, to do a lot of work from the ground up.”

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photo courtesy of Zulema Aleman

As I mentioned in my last post, activism can be exhausting when you take a step back to look at the grand scheme of it all, and realize that everything you’ve been doing barely makes a tangible difference. Aleman herself has wanted to give up countless times, but taking the time to consciously practice self care reminds her that she is doing so much.

Self Love Week was a reminder that even when it feels like we’re putting in way too much effort and getting way little appreciation, we are enough. It’s important to acknowledge the beauty that accompanies our individuality and to look after ourselves, and of course look after one another.

“It always just made sense to me to just stand up for myself and stand up for other women,” said Aleman.

On men & body image

One of the less discussed topics regarding body positivity is that of male body image.

The Body Project, developed by the Women’s Studies Program at Bradley University noted on their website that, “So far, research has shown that male and female body images share many of the same features. Women and men, boys and girls, may share body image risk factors and consequences of negative body image, though studies do point toward males being affected a little less severely than females.” This was in regards to a study conducted by Psychology professors Duane A. Hargreaves and Marika Tiggemann.

According to The Body Project;

Male body image also tends to be more misunderstood than female body image. Men are presumed to be mainly concerned with a ‘perceived lack of muscle,’ when in fact male body image can be much more complex.”

One study by professors in the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy of Osnabrück University in Germany tracked 45 weight-training men, while showing them photographs of men with normal, muscular and hyper-muscular body builds.

The study read that, “Among the 3 other bodies, the attractive body parts of the muscular body drew the most visual attention. Results confirm and extend recent findings on the relevance of muscularity for male body image. At the same time, they indicate a prominent role of drive for thinness for body-related attentional biases assumed to perpetuate body dissatisfaction even in men.”

To get the opinion of a real-life male, I sat down with my friend Wold Recht in the lawn in front of the Kennedy Library on the Cal Poly campus. As he picked apart the blades of grass in front of him, I picked apart his brain and asked him for his views of male body image.

 

 

“Within my own personal sphere, I don’t regard it as healthy to allow yourself to be influenced by what is effectively just a consumerist approach to what the body’s image should be.” —Wolf Recht

While Recht understands that he is surrounded by social pressures that affect many people’s body image, he chooses not to pay them much attention in his day to day life.

I guess this just shows that many people will feel differently when it comes to body image, especially because it is such a personal subject. It’s fascinating to open up conversations about self love or body image, particularly with people who have a different perspectives than you do; they will always teach you something new.