By Gillian Fortier
I’ve never seen so much caffeine in one home in my life. Coffee, Mountain Dew, Kombucha, and Five Hour Energy – even straight up caffeine pills. There’s only one possible explanation: finals season is upon us.
We’re all struggling here. There’s no lie and no shame in it – finals are hard. Everyone knows it. We sleep less, and when we do, it’s often in strange places. We drink more coffee and wear the same outfit – leggings and a comfy sweatshirt – three days in a row. We cry in the open and disappear into the library for days at a time. When our mothers call to ask how we’re doing, we respond “I’m alive.” And we wear it all as a badge of honor, a competition among students to see who has it the worst, who is going the craziest.
By Edwina Koch
7 minutes left.
With each passing second that approaches midnight, the 8th-floor lobby suddenly fills with more and more students joining in camaraderie, some entering in groups and the really brave ones entering alone.
6 minutes left.
People make awkward small talk. Those who are first timers think briefly about running away, but the spirit of veterans helps fill the room with the calmness required to pull such a stunt.
2 minutes left.
The energy suddenly becomes maniacal. Spontaneous and perhaps impulsive last-minute stragglers run into the lobby to join us. Clothes start to come off, fabric hits the floor and the final countdown begins.
It’s one of my favorite traditions at Carolina and I now make it a point to participate in the Carolina finals-week naked run every semester. The first time I did it, I felt like a SUPER-HERO and now, I try to get as many others to participate with me. Here’s why:
People always tell me that they want to do it with me and that they are 100% on board. But then, the hours before we’re supposed to run, the ‘should haves,’ ‘could haves,’ ‘would haves’ arise.
“Ugh, I can’t I’m so bloated this week.”
“I’ll do it next semester when I’m in better shape.”
“I don’t feel good about the way I look right now.”
Well…here is my New Years Resolution: I want to call BULLS*** on those SHOULD haves COULD haves and WOULD haves. Happiness and body-confidence can be had right NOW.
People think I must be so confident about my own body in order to run in front of the school naked. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’m broken. I’m self-conscious about my body. I’ve lived 5 years in and out of eating disorder behaviors. I look in the mirror and as much as I put my best efforts forward to be body positive and feel beautiful every day, I fail. I fail every day.
THAT is why I streak.Call me crazy, but running alongside one hundred other naked people reminds me of my own beauty. In those moments as we count down together and people start shedding their clothes, I realize that I am standing in a room full of naked imperfection and THAT is beautiful.
Seeing others smiling in their own exposed skin makes me smile. The excited energy in the 8th-floor lobby as we count down those moments leaves no room for self-conscious attitude. People of all shapes, all sizes join in the tradition and suddenly, any negative self talk—“I’m not shape for this” or “I’m too bloated for this” or “I’m bigger than I want to be”—all of that disintegrates into fight or flight. As my mind enters this charged, primal state, I realize our bodies are something to celebrate and scream about.
SOOOO, reader. Welcome to 2017.
If you don’t want to run across UNC’s campus with me naked… I GUESS I can understand that but please look in the mirror and just remember how gorgeous your ‘imperfections’ are—all of them, mental and physical. Our funny ‘imperfections’ aren’t imperfections at all. They make us who we are.
My, crazy, nudity-loving, free-spirited self just wanted to remind you that YOU are beautiful. YOU are enough. YOU shine in your own skin and YOU don’t need to change a single thing about how you look. When it comes to “shedding the holiday pounds,” the end goal should never be just weight loss, it should be health— physical and mental health.
That is a note to you all as much as it is a note to myself. Peace, love, and continued joy to all of us! Happy New Year. Bonne Année mes belles.
BY: EMBODY CAROLINA TEAM
We at Embody know how difficult this time of year can be for so many people, so we worked together to crowdsource our best tips for y'all this holiday season. We also took the time to reflect on why we're so thankful for recovery and why it's worth every difficult moment. If you need additional Thanksgiving resources, please visit this page. The Embody team wishes you lots of joy, peace, and love this Thanksgiving!
1) Eat as much as (or whatever!) you want without feeling guilty or pressure to explain yourself
^and know we all support you in that!
2) Know that no one else has the power to make you feel inferior
3) Take time during the break to practice self-compassion
4) Don’t let food-related thoughts take away from enjoying being with family and being thankful
5) Try to change the conversation if you hear any form of fat talk/muscle talk/etc
6) take care of yoself / listen to your body!
7) If you’re having ED thoughts, try to distract yourself by talking to friends/fam/etc and being mindful / enjoying the moment
8) If a family member makes a comment about food or body image, know that you do not have to validate them by agreeing or laughing along
9) It’s so much more fun to look back on the holidays and know you enjoyed time your family/friends rather than worrying about food/exercise, so keep telling yourself that!
10) Share all your new cool college knowledge on body positivity with your friends from home!
11) Have a plan for who to call if you get overwhelmed with anything
12) Treat Thanksgiving like it’s any other meal
13) Create a mantra that you can use, such as “I can get through this” or “I am stronger than a meal”
14) Read up on body neutrality (See this past Embody blog for an awesome reflection on body neutrality by Gillian Fortier!)
Why we're thankful for recovery:
Most of all, this Thanksgiving, we're thankful for this beautiful life and the opportunity to share it with all of you.
BY ASHLEY BROADWATER
The holidays and family can be amazing, don’t get me wrong, but Thanksgiving, for example, can be a tricky holiday to navigate. From comments about weight gain/weight loss/muscle gain/muscle loss to being single/whom you’re dating to questions that mirror your existential crises, interactions with others can be stressful. Combine that with comments about how little/how much you’re eating, or whether you
got too many potatoes/carbs/stuffing/gravy, or how someone “hasn’t eaten all day” or “will be working out the entire day tomorrow to ‘make up’ for today’s eating,” my empathy goes out to us all.
BY RACHEL HOROWITZ
“I’m going to the gym, so I can eat this.”
“That person is way too skinny for me.”
“You look so great! Did you lose weight?”
“You need to put some meat on those bones.”
“Can you believe how many calories are in this sandwich?”
“You eat so much and stay so thin. I wish that I had your genes.”
These are only a few of the fragments that I overhear in conversations. Most of us have heard or said similar phrases before. Some of them may seem like compliments…until we take a second look. It’s a societal norm that throwing around comments and criticism about body weight and shape – especially our own – is fine.
BY GILLIAN FORTIER
2017 is a fresh start.
Every new year is a fresh start. The beginning of every school year, each semester – a fresh start. Each month. The first day in a class after an exam. The forty thousand Mondays the average person will live. Every single solitary day you live: fresh starts.
And with each fresh start comes the chance for a personal revolution. The idea of a New Year’s resolution is nothing new – not to society as a whole, and not to me.
I used to make resolutions, and a lot of them. In my (painfully awkward) middle school years, I was determined: to be cooler. To make new friends. To write in my journal every day and to keep my room clean. But mostly, I had big dreams of being “cool”.
BY GILLIAN FORTIER
Christmas has its cookies; Valentine’s Day has its chocolates; Halloween has its candy; Thanksgiving has it all. The turkey. The cranberries. The pumpkin pie. There is, perhaps, no American holiday more food-centric than Thanksgiving.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of body-shaming, particularly on Thanksgiving. “It’s a cheat day – I get to be bad today!” and “I feel so bloated” and “I’m going to go run X miles – as soon as I can move again!” seem like bonding opportunities, connecting us to our loved ones when politics, religion, and world-views may divide us.
BY TERESA CEBALLOS
Disclaimer: Embody Carolina is a non-partisan organization. We do our best to address issues of body positivity and eating disorders as they come up in popular culture, regardless of the source. The below piece is one member's response to the current events that are affecting the human body’s value in our country.
In the United States of America, 30 million people struggle with some form of an eating disorder during their lifetime. Eating disorders arise from a huge variety of factors, including genetic risk and an individual’s psychology, but societal factors play a role too: how the media glorifies thinness and shames fatness, cultural norms that promote narrow and unattainable standards for beauty, and societal trends that place a higher value on a person’s physical appearance than on what they can contribute to the world around them, to name a few.