Numerous lives are affected by eating disorders each and every day, and college students are particularly vulnerable. Syracuse University, in attempt to draw attention to this issue and decrease the incidence of eating disorders on campus, created a club that provides education to students about eating disorders and body image issues. With over hundreds of clubs to choose from at Syracuse University, one of the most unique would have to be SHAPES Body Image Club. SHAPES stands for Students Helping Acquire, Promote, and Enhance Self- Esteem. It’s a stretch for a title- but they get the message across. Founded only a few short years ago, July 2012 to be exact, SHAPES made its debut with the goal of helping others feel better about their bodies. Ranging from Scale Smashes and Wellness Walks, to inspirational “notes” around campus, and chalking up the quad, SHAPES has so much to offer.
Although this club is still relatively new, it has already made an impact on the lives of students. Open to everyone, guys and girls, SHAPES is accepting and friendly to all students and provides a safe and confidential place for them to open up about their body image issues. Sophomore in the Visual and Performing Arts College, and member of SHAPES Body Image Club, Gigi Antonelle says, “It’s great because you don’t have to be suffering from an eating disorder to be part of the group”. Syracuse University is one of the few universities across the United States that has implemented this club to promote body love along with size and self-acceptance.
College is already a stressful time in a young adult’s life, and stressing about numbers on the scale is just another unneeded worry. According to Gigi, “Everyone is really welcoming and understanding. It seems like everyone in today’s world is concerned with being skinny, so it’s nice to have a group where the mindset is that we should all be happy with our bodies”. She recognizes how important it is to have a club like this on campus, and how fortunate SU students are to have such a welcoming and supportive community.
While eating disorders are multifaceted and can arise from many factors, SHAPES acknowledges that environmental factors play a large role and they are doing something about it by creating an accepting environment. Here are some of the fun events that SHAPES have already carried out:
Chalking the Quad: A fun, and lighthearted way of spreading kind words, club members scroll positive messages such as “you are beautiful” or “weight is just a number” on the sidewalks to remind students to focus on self-acceptance and positive body image.
Wellness Walk: SHAPES participated in their 3rd annual Wellness Walk this past spring. This walk included fun activities such as free body massages, therapy dogs for stress relief, and a wellness expo where various health oriented organizations offered free samples to students to further promote SHAPES across the campus. The Walks are scheduled to coincide National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which usually takes place at the end of February or the beginning of March.
Scale Smashes: As a fundraiser for the club, this activity is another fun way to spread the message of what SHAPES is all about; a number is just a number. The club collects donated scales, and then students and faculty alike take a hammer to a scale. It sends a great message and empowers those who once thought they were solely defined by a number.
For more information about SHAPES, check out their Facebook page. Additionally, visit https://nedawareness.org/ for information about what you can do to promote awareness on eating disorders or how you can help a loved one who is suffering. Remember SHAPES’ favorite words of reminders: All bodies are beautiful!