WE massages against media

Women’s Empowerment will use chair massages, health food tables, movies and informational booths to combat media perceptions of women when it hosts the second annual Body Image Fair, from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. April 7 in the University Center.

This year’s theme, “The Beauty Within,” will promote the idea that media images of women are unrealistic and unfair, said senior physical education major and WE member James Ernest.

Last year, the fair focused on women’s self-perceptions with a “WE are All Beautiful” theme and while this year’s focus has redirected to media perceptions, the goal remains the same: “To reach out to women here on campus and help women build up their confidence and self-esteem,” WE president Kristen Johnson, sophomore, Criminal Justice major, said.

“We want to send out the message that women don’t have to conform to what the media says (is beautiful),” Johnson added.

WE faculty advisor Mari York, who predicts the chair massages will be the most popular attraction of the day, noted the need for good body images.

“Eating disorders are highest in college-age women and even higher on college campuses themselves,” York said.

Eating disorders on campuses are a problem across the country. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 22 percent of women on college campuses diet “often” or “always” and the mortality rate of women from 15 to 24 years old suffering from anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the mortality rate by any other cause of death.

Ernest said he’s noticed body image issues on Northern Kentucky University’s campus.

“A lot of the time, women will be walking on campus wearing next to nothing and at first it seems like these women must have a great deal of confidence,” he said, “but sometimes it’s really a reflection of negative self-esteem. The media has told them they have to look a certain way to be beautiful.”

The fair is designed to challenge some media definitions of beauty, but it will also show movies such as, “Waiting to Exhale,” “Real Women Have Curves” and “Better than Chocolate” throughout the day in Otto Budig Theatre to illustrate beauty at different ages and from diverse backgrounds.

But whether the fair empowers or educates through movies, information or massages, the purpose of the fair is simple, according to Johnson.

“We want to send out the message that women are beautiful no matter what,” she said.