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.

How to: Self care for activists

On January 21st, an estimated 4.8 million people participated in the worldwide Women’s March to come together in support of human rights, including immigration and healthcare reform, women’s rights, support for the LGBTQIA community, environmental issues, freedom of religion and racial equality.

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My roomies and I marched! I basically cried all day because it was so amazing.

On February 16th, immigrants nationwide stayed home from school and work as part of the protest “A Day Without Immigrants.”

And coming up on International Women’s Day, March 8th, will be a Women’s Strike, called “A Day Without A Woman,” which according to their organizers;

“…Will be a day of action organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, lesbian, queer and trans women.”

President Trump’s inauguration sparked many groups of people into action, uniting them to take 10 actions within the first 100 days of his presidency. People that may have once felt as though they were alone are now being provided a platform and opportunity to come together to voice a common perspective. But as fulfilling as it is to take action when you feel strongly about a cause, it can be difficult not to get caught up in emotions, or feel as though you are even making a difference at all.

Activists ignite change, but in order to set a positive example, we need to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves while we fight for everyone else.

I talked to the Associate Chair of the Psychology and Child Development department and Women’s and Gender Studies Professor at California Polytechnic University, Julie Garcia, who gave me some tips on how to practice self care while still being active in the causes you believe in.

LOOK TO WHERE YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

One of the most frustrating feelings as an activist, or anyone who is trying to enact change, is feeling as though you aren’t making a difference. Garcia encourages focusing your attention on the things you can do, rather than those you can’t. Send a letter to a congressman, attend meetings, make some pins and pass them out. Identify where it is that you can be of most assistance and focus your energy there.

FIND YOUR COMMUNITY

Social medias makes it so easy for you to be flooded with opinions that oppose yours, and while it is important to know what’s going on, it’s just as important to, “create a community of people with a similar mindset to yours,” says Garcia. It won’t do you any good to let your emotions run high or waste your time trying to argue with people who will not change their mind. Surround yourself with people who support the same causes you do, who bring you up and make you feel as though you aren’t fighting for your cause alone.

DOUBLE CHECK YOUR SOURCES

Social media, “creates an us-them,” mentality, says Garcia. There are many social media networks and algorithms that, based on the sources of information you’ve already viewed, feed you more information to confirm your bias. Garcia stresses the importance of double checking your sources and questioning what you read. “It feels good to feel like we’re right, feels good to find sources that say what we already think,” Garcia said. In order to know you’re getting a full understanding of what is going on, you have to remember to go outside your box and not just look at what confirms your bias.

TAKE A STEP BACK

“It’s important to take a step back and immerse yourself in things that make you feel whole,” says Garcia. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all the policies, tweets or protests, but taking a moment for yourself can make all the difference. Whether it be exercising, spending time with family or friends, painting or cozying up in your bed with some good Netflix, spending some time away from the issues and back in your own, comfortable bubble can ground you again.

So, don’t forget to find support and give yourself some love while you’re out there CHANGING THE WORLD.