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TEDxUNC inspires reflection

The TEDxUNC 2016 conference was held on Saturday afternoon in Memorial Hall with a speaker line up highlighting this year's theme of "Bodies: Being Human"
The TEDxUNC 2016 conference was held on Saturday afternoon in Memorial Hall with a speaker line up highlighting this year's theme of "Bodies: Being Human"

At the conference, called “Bodies: Being Human,” the speakers discussed different aspects of the body and questions about race, gender, sexuality and body image as they connect to the body.

The student-led event was divided into speaker sessions and a breakout session. The breakout session consisted of interactive exhibits that included wax hand making, virtual reality technology and breaking the UNC record for the most people doing sit ups at one time.

Sarah Wright, a member of the conference design committee, said passion is the key to TEDxUNC.

“My favorite thing about TED talks is they’re just little snippets of information everyone’s passionate about. So you can learn a lot of different things in a very short amount of time,” she said.

Kim Lan Grout, a writer and photographer who spoke at the event, discussed transcending disabilities and positive body imaging. At 18 years old, she had her leg amputated. She said it’s human nature to make judgments but we have a habit of turning judgments into something toxic.

“We owe it to ourselves to make safe spaces for us and the people around us,” she said.

Lily Clarke, a senior religious studies major, said she loved Grout’s talk.

“She was a great speaker, and just thinking about associating something positive with every difference you see is a concept that I might have subconsciously thought was a good thing but I never really put words to it,” Clarke said.

Two speakers, Krystyna Hutchinson and Corinne Fisher, have an anti-slut shaming podcast called “Guys We F****d.” They discussed their personal experiences and how they often felt like they owed their bodies to men.

“Well, he paid for dinner and got me flowers so, I guess I’ll blow him?” Krystyna said.

They encouraged the audience to always ask themselves if what they’re doing is something they want to do or something they feel like they should do.

Kyle Krieger, a hairstylist, discussed sexuality and his difficult journey of self-exploration. He spoke about his addiction and how he was willing to do just about anything to get drugs.

Krieger said when he arrived at his first 12-step meeting, he saw his hairstylist standing in a greeting line with people smiling. His hairstylist said “welcome home” to him.

He said he now thinks of his sobriety as a gift and has found that working with others has filled up all the emptiness he felt as a child.

David Linden, a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University and speaker at the conference, said he found Krieger’s discussion incredibly moving.

Linden’s talk was about the science of touching and feeling. He said there is no sensation without emotion, and how we see the world shapes what we see and how we think.

“To be human is to be beautiful, to feel things. Our sense of touch is intrinsically beautiful,” he said.

Artist Ariana Page Russell said she used her skin condition — dermatographia — as a canvas for art where she could express and articulate herself. She discussed how bodies are capable and beautiful and expressive, which tied in many themes from the conference.

“We’re walking novels just waiting to be read,” she said. “Look no further than yourself for inspiration.”

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