Mosaic / February 27, 2019

SASS unveils gallery, hopes to spark self love

Sophomore Ikenna Ozor, who is on the basketball team, shot for around 45 minutes with volunteer photographer sophomore Rob Nguyen. Ozor wanted to showcase his athleticism in his photos as it is a large part of his identity on campus. (Photo courtesy of Rob Nguyen)

Pictures of Knox students of all shapes and sizes, ranging from fully dressed to wearing next to nothing at all, covered the back wall of Taylor Lounge. The event was meant to promote self-love and acceptance and the photographs on the embodied just that.

On Saturday Feb. 23, SASS hosted a public gallery of photos for the conclusion of Bodies Week, as well as stations discussing the body image issues of people of color and handing out free binders for trans students.

Volunteer student photographers were charged with the task of taking their models’ visions and capturing them on film. President of SASS and volunteer photographer junior Kira Carney enjoyed allowing the models to take control of their portraits.

“It was really cool to hear what the model’s pictured in their heads and to make it come true,” Carney said.

Sophomore and student athlete Ikenna Ozor participated in Bodies Week for the first time this year, hoping to serve as a representative for campus athletes.

(Photo courtesy of Rob Nguyen)

“It’s pretty cool that Knox is able to give praise to people becoming more comfortable with their bodies, or who are comfortable, or aren’t as comfortable,” Ozor said. “It covers all people on that spectrum.”

Ozor chose to take his photos partially clothed with a pair of shorts on and a basketball, emphasizing his athletic background. Other students took their photos fully clothed, with more focus on other aspects of themselves. Junior Maeve Mindell elected to take her photo wearing nothing but a sheer kimono.

“It’s scary, knowing everyone is looking at my boobs, but it’s really fun and I’m getting a really cool form of catharsis,” Mindell said.

The ultimate goal of SASS in holding this event every year was creating a safe space for students of every race, gender or body type to celebrate themselves creatively and to share that image with their friends.

“People who signed up were able to portray their bodies the way they imagined, and have fun with the event,” Carney said.

Every person’s experiences during the photo-taking process differed. Some went in already feeling fairly comfortable with themselves. Ozor was one of those people, citing his experience playing sports with granting him a greater level of comfort with himself.

“I’ve been pretty comfortable with my body through my life, so I guess it’s just put more of a focus on that,” he said.

Carney participated in past Bodies Weeks as a model herself, and believed that the greatest comfort for her was the support and willingness to put her desires first that each of the photographers showed. Now that’s she’s in that role, she’s tried to do the same for others.

“All the photographers are so nice. Everyone who volunteered is just really kind and makes sure the models are the top priority,” Carney said.

Mindell, and many others, weren’t as comfortable going in. Though she’d participated in Bodies Week before, it had been several years since she’d done it. Her photos were taken in her own home, where she felt most comfortable, with an old chair she’d thrifted. Though she was nervous going into her photo shoot, with the help of her photographer she was able to quickly get into it.

“Sometimes I still do feel fat and looking at the photo I still feel a little bit chubby, but I feel cute,” Mindell said.

Though Mindell does often still have doubts about her appearance, she is grateful for the new outlook of appreciation that she gained from participating in Bodies Week.

Jessica Beckman

Tags:  bodies week body positivity gallery self acceptance self love Students Against Sexism in Society

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