The University of Nottingham Feminists held their Body Confidence Fair on November 24 to mark the start of 2015’s Body Confidence Week after the success of the previous campaign.

Working in collaboration with the Women’s Network, Body Confidence Week is designed to promote self-confidence, starting with loving your body.

“Bodies are amazing and it’s important to celebrate the different shapes and sizes”

The fair consisted of stalls from Nightline – the anonymous telephone support service, the Coppafeel charity Uni ‘Boob Ball’ team, stalls from UoN Feminists and Women’s Network, along with the inspiration board #mybodycan that students could write on as a sign of solidarity against self-judgement on body image.

Woman’s Officer for the Students’ Union Emma Quaedvlieg stated that this year’s focus was to add a new dimension to body confidence. She said: “[body confidence] isn’t just about physical appearance but what your abilities are. There are lots of stuff your body can do even if you aren’t confident about your looks, and that’s an important aspect to body confidence.”

She further explained that the effect of society’s definitions of beauty on a young person’s body confidence was one of the motivations to do something like that would change attitudes. Body Confidence Week is designed to encourage people not to conform to society’s standards but their own bodies.

“It’s important to remember that you are not on your own even if sometimes it feels like you are”

History student Agata Cilenciala told Impact that she had attended the Fair because “bodies are amazing and it’s important to celebrate the different shapes and sizes”.

Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience student Hannah was there to get involved in creating awareness of body confidence issues in Universities as it’s “an issue that has no age limit or gender; it can affect anyone”.

Nightline’s service includes, but it not limited to, helping students with body confidence issues. Nightline’s Publicity Manager Hannah Ventesei told Impact that “especially at university, people are conscious about their image”.

She continued, “Everyone worries but it’s everyone’s differences that make them who they are. It’s important to remember you are not on your own even if sometimes it feels like you are”.

“It’s about helping people to feel confident the body they have created for themselves.”

The event was not gender specific and a very important issue raised at the fair was the recognition of trans and non-binary body confidence.

Natasha Bednall, Communications Manager for the UoN Feminists told Impact that it’s “important to include everyone. Body confidence dictates that men should feel [a certain] way and women should feel [another] way, and people shouldn’t have to fit into two categories. It’s about helping people to feel confident in the body they have created for themselves”.

In 2011, the government set up the Be Real Campaign, in response to the Reflections on Body Image report conducted by the All Parliamentary Party Group for Body Image. That report found that women felt serious anxiety due to body image issues.

Be Real is a national movement made up of charities, schools, businesses and individuals. It was founded in partnership with Dove and is sponsored by New Look, Facebook and YMCA among others.

The events held at the University of Nottingham throughout Body Confidence Week reflect the desire within the student population to increase awareness of body confidence issues and attempt to eradicate the self-loathing that accompanies them.

Jessica Millott and Beth Rowland

Image: UoN Body Confidence via facebook

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