Those who walked past the Campus Y Monday afternoon were greeted with a paper tree covered in small notes supporting body positivity.
The tree was a part of Mental Health Monday, a weekly initiative meant to eliminate stigma around and raise awareness for mental illness. This week's event, held by Student Government’s Mental Health Committee and The Campus Y’s Embody Carolina, discussed thankfulness and how to stay mentally healthy during the holiday season.
The weekly meetings are supported by the Mental Health Committee in Student Government. Each week, different groups and discussion topics are featured, Ashley Broadwater, co-chairperson of Embody Carolina, said.
“We have a Thanksgiving theme, so we’re writing what we’re thankful for that our body can do,” Broadwater said.
Embody Carolina set up a paper tree and leaves with markers at a table outside The Campus Y for the event, which lasted from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Passersby were encouraged to take note of what they most appreciate about their body, write it on the leaf and place it on the tree. Embody Carolina also handed out free KIND Bars.
Broadwater said there's a lot of focus on the appearance of people’s bodies, so Embody Carolina seeks to remind people that bodies have value far beyond aesthetics.
“Thanksgiving can be hard because there’s a lot of comments about how much food people are eating and things like that," Broadwater said. "So we actually focus the attention on being thankful."
Cameron Lynch, who is on the executive team of Embody Carolina, said she thinks it's important for people to take some time during each day for themselves. Lynch said taking the time to feel grateful for something, even something small, can help combat negative thoughts.
Senior Parrish Finn stopped by the table as she walked out of the Campus Y. She loved the idea of the thankfulness tree and the positivity Embody Carolina is spreading. She wrote on the tree, signed up for their listserv and said that she would be involved with Embody in the future.
“I think it’s a good reminder of all the things we can do because we have a body,” Finn said.
Another executive committee member, Maya Wahl, teaches fitness classes on campus. She said this has changed her views of exercise and individuals' perceptions of their body.
“I want the narrative to change around that,” Wahl said. “I want people to move their body because it feels good, or eat what they want because it feels good, and show gratitude for what they can, because a lot of people don’t have those abilities.”
Wahl thinks this version of Mental Health Monday is important because it promotes body positivity.
“I think that this particular activity, where it’s not asking your opinion about your body, it's more asking what are you appreciative that your body can do," Wahl said. "It forces you to have to think about it in that way and then physically write it down."
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