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Body positivity rally met with controversy

A demonstration for body positivity raised some eyebrows on the Mills College campus this week, and students are up-in-arms over the point of the rally. The students who participated in the demonstration wore nothing but shorts and pasties. Several of the girls wrote messages on their bodies as well: “No shame” and “I love my body,” being some of the few.

Slogan on student's body reads "No Shame" at Body Positivity Rally. (All photos courtesy of Stephanie Szanto)
Slogan on student’s body reads “No Shame” at Body Positivity Rally. (All photos courtesy of Stephanie Szanto)

“For me, it was about liberation and freedom and being able to just be myself without being shamed,” Stephanie Szanto, first-year, said. “I have no shame, but what I got from this was a lot of shame.”

Szanto created the event on Facebook, titled “Body Positivity Rally.” The Body Positivity Group was not affiliated with the demonstration, but the students who participated in the rally, like Szanto, are all members of the club. The page’s description advertised that the goal of the event was to demonstrate body positivity and protest Mills’no-nudity on campus rule. Attendees were invited to wear as much or as little clothing as they liked, but to come dressed in what makes them the most comfortable.

Szanto expressed frustration over men being able to be shirtless on campus, but the College’s female population having to cover themselves.

“I think the sooner we break the social constructs and confinements of having to be clothed because we’re women, the sooner we’re going to come to an equality with men,” Szanto said. “We should be proud of who we are and we should be able to show that comfortably.”

When photos from the demonstration went up on Facebook, first-year Skylar Crownover disagreed with one of the captions, which read: “If you guys are uncomfortable with your own bodies, then you should GET comfortable, whether that means improving yourself or loving who you already are.”

“I think it unfortunately boils body positivity down to this idea that you need to work out and get skinny for you to love your body,” Crownover said. “The whole point of body positivity is to love your body as it is; there’s not one mold we’re all going for.”

Crownover and a group of friends felt that the protest aspect of the demonstration was not present considering none of the students involved in the demonstration were nude. But, Body Positivity Group president Kendall Anderson stated that the purpose of the demonstration was simply to promote self-love.

“I feel like people are so concerned about our appearances that they are missing the point; this was a demonstration for body positivity and selflove,” Anderson said. “It was a huge challenge for many of the participants who are less comfortable with their bodies, and felt very liberating and rewarding to myself and others, despite the criticism we are receiving.”

However, Crownover felt that the demonstration actually missed the point.

“What it boils down to is that I don’t think they understand the core meaning of body positivity,” Crownover said. “Being positive towards your own body but being hateful and shameful towards others is not body positivity.”