Coalition collects jeans to promote positive body image

By Megan Kutulis
March 5, 2009

The Body Image Coalition is asking you to throw away your jeans. That’s right, just leave them in the decorated boxes around campus. They shouldn’t be too hard to part with, right?

Although the BIC isn’t asking for your favorite hip-huggers, the group held their second annual Jeans Drive during National Eating Disorders Week, Feb. 23-27. The group placed boxes outside buildings and offices on campus and asked for donations of old or outgrown jeans.

“Only wear jeans that promote your positive body image. Stop trying to fit into the ideal of what you think you’re supposed to look like in your jeans,” Andrea Sussel, head of the BIC and a therapist at Cabrini’s Counseling Services, said.

The Body Image Coalition, founded in 2007, was created to counteract the pressures put on college students to have the perfect body, and to combat the unhealthy eating habits that are associated with body image issues.

By organizing the Jeans Drive, Sussel and the rest of the BIC hoped to improve the self- esteem issues of college students by having them get rid of pairs of jeans that might just be sitting in the closet. All denim donations go to Laurel House, a domestic violence shelter in Norristown, Pa.

According to the National Eating Disorders Web site, nearly 11 million men and women are struggling with eating disorders or body image issues. Although these individuals can be any age, Sussel understands the importance of talking to college students and sponsoring events like the Jeans Drive to promote a positive body image.

“Research shows that if we don’t help counteract these messages for the college population, it can lead to a greater severity of eating disorders later on in life, so it’s important to target this population now,” Sussel said.

One of the main goals of the Jeans Drive is to encourage participants to appreciate their body, and Sussel recommends taking time daily to do so.

“Treat yourself well everyday. Whether it be taking a walk, wearing clothes that make you feel good, ground your day everyday, whether it be spiritually or sharing it with friends. And don’t judge yourself,” Sussel said.

Katie Moore, senior exercise science and health promotion major, is co-president of the organization and stresses self-acceptance for anyone dealing with body image issues.

“It’s important to know your self worth, obtain support from family and friends and seek help when needed. It’s not about being skinny, it’s about being mentally and physically healthy and happy everyday,” Moore said.

Megan Kutulis

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