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National NOW Times >> Winter, 2001 >> Article

Love Your Body Day Becoming a Popular Tradition

by Donna Hazley

NOW Foundation's Sept. 20 Love Your Body Day was the biggest celebration yet in the campaign's three-year history. Activists from across the country held events to bring attention to negative images of women and girls in advertisements and media. While speaking out against companies that exploit women in order to sell products, participants also emphasized the need for women and girls to feel comfortable in their own bodies.

"The goal of Love Your Body Day is to let corporations and advertisers know that women refuse to accept ideas and body images that are insulting and unhealthy," said NOW Foundation Secretary/Treasurer Karen Johnson. "It is a day to take action and take back the definition of what is considered beautiful."

An impressive list of national, state and local organizations endorsed this year's Love Your Body Day, including: American Medical Women's Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Dads and Daughters, Ms. Foundation for Women, National Black Women's Health Project, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, National Organization for Men and National Women's Health Resource Center.

Many NOW chapters participated in the 2000 Love Your Body Day. Chapters organized actions and held house parties where activists discussed the hazards of negative media images. They organized letter-writing and petition-signing campaigns, distributed information at public gatherings, sponsored local writing and poster contests, and much more.

NOW New York City hosted a "Real Women Fashion Show" with models of all ages, sizes and colors. Tallahassee NOW presented a community workshop on positive body images.

California NOW demonstrated outside the National Association of Broadcasters convention where NOW Foundation's President Patricia Ireland and CA NOW President Helen Grieco addressed both body image issues and the related issue of corporate control of the media. (For more on media issues, see page 5.)

Other NOW chapters and states participating included: Indian River, Lincoln, Milwaukee, Akron Area, Grand Rapids, Broward, St. Joe Valley, South Suffolk, York, Taos, Twin Cities, Fox Cities, Greater Corning-Elmira, Rockbridge Valley and Pennsylvania.

And it wasn't just feminist activists who got involved—schools (from elementary to college), community centers, health care professionals, local businesses—all kinds of people and establishments took part in Love Your Body Day. The campaign reached out to hundreds who might not normally join in a NOW action. Many newcomers wrote to the NOW Foundation expressing their enthusiasm for the event.

The University of Massachusetts Women's Resource Center held a contest for students to "Design Your Own Barbie." A group at Mary Baldwin College held free breast cancer screenings as part of a week-long program.

From campus awareness campaigns, movie viewings, dances and walkathons, to teen mentorship programs, exhibits, skits and poetry readings, the number of ways to celebrate Love Your Body Day grew.

This year's campaign didn't miss the Internet, either. Web sites like Grassroots.com, Largeworld.com, UtopianEmpire.com, chickclick.com and fabulamag.com, all announced Love Your Body Day with links to nowfoundation.org.

Love Your Body Day grew out of the NOW Foundation's Women's Health Project, in an effort to counter-act the negative influence advertising—particularly for the tobacco, fashion and diet industries—has on women and girls.

This year, the Women's Health Project produced a new video, "Hollywood's Smoke and Mirrors: Women's Health at Risk," to continue the education work the original "Redefining Liberation" video began. The new video features interviews with such high-profile women as Tyne Daly, actor on "Judging Amy"; Carol Moseley-Braun, ambassador to New Zealand; Dolores Huerta, United Farm Workers co-founder; and Urvashi Vaid, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Young women also share their viewpoints on how TV and magazines encourage dieting and smoking. Chapters and other groups used the videos to spark discussions in classrooms and at house parties.

NOW Foundation provided anyone who was interested with information to help celebrate the day, mailing out more than 4,000 Love Your Body kits. The kits contained women's health fact sheets, petitions, action ideas and the opportunity to order additional items such as the educational videos, t-shirts and stickers. Organizers also received the 2000 Love Your Body Day promotional poster, designed by grand-prize winner of the national poster contest, Annette Granack from Moline, Ill. For information on next year's Love Your Body Day, the poster contest and other related events, call 202-628-8669, ext. 117.

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