BAM group will focus on body image, self-esteem issues

Bethany Johnson

Kellie Radic struggles with body image and wanted to be part of a student organization that helps people feel comfortable in their own skin.

“I’ve gone through weight fluctuations,” said Radic, a sophomore biology major. “And I’ve had issues finding love for my body and love for myself. So I wanted to be part of a group with people who feel the same way.”

So Radic joined the Body Acceptance Movement, which became an official Kent State student organization this month.

The organization will focus on reducing the stigma that surrounds body image and self-esteem related issues, while also providing students with resources and support throughout the development of a healthy body image.

“Basically, we plan on spreading the love,” Radic said.

Colleen Fitzgibbons, public health graduate student and president of BAM, said she started the organization because almost everyone can relate to the issues at hand.

“I believe that everyone has insecurities and that everyone suffers from body image issues whether they are aware of it or not,” Fitzgibbons said.

Fitzgibbons said the organization currently lacks detail and scheduled events because she plans to first get ideas from prospective members who attend the informational meetings. She said the organization’s Facebook page already has 62 “likes.”

“I think students will want to join because we aren’t focusing on one target audience,” Fitzgibbons said. “We will focus on all genders, all sexual orientations and all races. We want to go across the board and try and create this movement of body acceptance.”

But before joining, Fitzgibbons said students must understand an important limitation of the organization.

“I want people to know this organization isn’t going to be a giant counseling session,” Fitzgibbons said. “We want people to express themselves and share their opinions, but they need to be aware that we aren’t clinical counselors.”

Colette Armes, an officer in the organization, said she joined because some of her friends have had eating disorders.

“I’ve had some close friends of mine struggle with eating disorders, and I never knew how to help them,” said Armes, higher education and student personnel graduate student. “I’m sure many people have been in this same situation and they don’t know how to help their struggling friend. This organization can help with that.”

But Armes still has concerns about the new organization.

“I don’t want students to think this is a typical female eating disorder group,”Armes said. “I know that can be the stigma when you hear about groups like this.”

Armes is also worried the organization won’t attract male students.

“We don’t want this to solely consist of females,” Armes said. “No one acknowledges the fact that men are struggling with the same issues. This causes them to be more ashamed about admitting it.”

But Armes said student organizations like BAM should exist despite the obstacles.

“It’s extremely important to have groups like this on a college campus,” Armes said. “Students shouldn’t feel like they are suffering alone. There are always going to be other people in the same boat you are, so why not bring those people together and start something great?”

Contact Bethany Johnson at [email protected].