Students enjoy a free cycling class at the Rec, Monday afternoon. University Health Services and RecSports have teamed up to offer free TeXercise and cycling classes all week to demonstrate the important role exercise plays in maintaining a healthy mental outlook.

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

Barbie and Ken stood on display at Gregory Gym Plaza Monday to show students how mainstream media and pop culture influence an unrealistic body image for men and women.

National Love Your Body Week kicked off its first event by displaying life-size versions of the toy dolls with the purpose of encouraging students to think critically about and challenge the “ideal body image” portrayed in the media, said Susan Hochman, University Health Services manager. Love Your Body Week consists of daily planned events focusing on helping students discover what a healthy and positive body image consists of.

Barbie and Ken made their appearance at the “Love Your Genes” campaign, the first event of the week, which encouraged students to donate “skinny jeans” they have lying around that might represent an unrealistic ideal for their body type. The campaign will continue taking jeans donations at Gregory Gym Plaza today and Wednesday and in the West Mall on Thursday and Friday.

During the events, UHS nutrition peer educators will be distributing positive messages about ways to love your body at workshops Wednesday and Thursday, Hochman said.

“The peer educators will address the influences that shape body image, the cost of poor body image and methods for overcoming negative body image,” she said.

Love Your Body Week coincides with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which is an opportunity to bring light to the eating disorder issue on campus, said nutrition senior Megan Destefano, a UHS nutrition peer educator.

“We want people to accept their bodies and realize it’s okay to be who you are and how you were made,” Destefano said. “We want people to understand that bodies come in different shapes and sizes and that’s perfectly fine.”

Hochman said Love Your Body Week is also an opportunity to promote the campus resources and services at UHS that are available to students who may be struggling with poor body image or who are concerned about a friend.

Nutrition senior Samantha Partida, president of the Nutrition and Wellness Association, said Love Your Body Week is an opportunity to raise health awareness.

“Most people don’t know when they’re treating their body poorly or when they aren’t taking the right approach [to becoming healthier],” Partida said. “It’s really more about being healthy and accepting who you are first before you make any changes.”

Hochman said UHS and RecSports also teamed up to offer free TeXercise and Cycling classes throughout the week to promote the joyful movement initiative.

“We want to encourage students to engage in physical activity for reasons of having fun or staying healthy rather than attempting to achieve an unrealistic body image,” Hochman said.

Nutrition senior Victoria Carrasco, a UHS nutrition peer educator, supervised the free group cycling class Monday at the Recreational Sports Center.

“A lot of people think exercise can be boring, depending on what you do, so we want to help students find something that they like to do and help them keep up the healthy behavior,” Carrasco said.

Printed on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 as: Love Your Body hosts jean drive, free classes

Cailun Booker, a senior advertising major and member of Zeta Sigma Chi sorority, leads a presentation on campus regarding the famed Matel doll and her position in a multicultural world. Booker’s talk focused on Barbie’s many cultural and ethnic identities and the consequences stemming from the toy’s evolution.

Photo Credit: Kelsey Shaw | Daily Texan Staff

Barbara Millicent Roberts, the original queen of the plastics, has only been around for 52 years. She has succeeded in more than 108 professions ranging from a surgeon, gold medal gymnast, astronaut, UNICEF diplomat and even a McDonalds employee. Roberts, more commonly known as Barbie, has definitely come a long way from her original catchphrase of “math is hard.”

Barbie to some is the ideal woman: She always has a great job, she has the perfect relationship with Ken, she has transformed into almost every ethnicity imaginable with a simple coat of skin tone-colored paint, and she is able to do all of those things while maintaining an estimated body mass index of 14.9 — pretty good for a 52 year old. Barbie has come far, but can she be considered a role model to young girls of all races?

Cailun Booker, vice president of Zeta Sigma Chi sorority hosted “Barbie and Multiculturalism” last night to a small group hoping to discuss diversity and the evolution of the Barbie franchise.

In 1980, Mattel released an around-the-world collection, showing that Barbie can not only have multiple jobs but can be multiple races. Mattel used the same facial structures, only changing skin tones and outfits to represent girls from all over the world. This practice proved to be very controversial. Mattel released minority dolls in hopes of giving minority girls a positive self-image.

“I’ve noticed the cultures they highlight have dwindled over the years and the ones they do continue to make are falling short,” Booker said. “In the future, if they are going to continue with these dolls they need to make more ethnically-distinct faces or people will start to catch on and business will fall by the wayside.”

Another thing that Booker said Mattel needs to keep in mind is Barbie’s physical features.

“Physically, Barbie is very unrealistic, if that is all girls have to look up to they will end up having body issues. Her body can affect psyche of young girls, who want to live up to her very unrealistic body type,” she said.

Over time, Barbie’s jobs have become more challenging: Rather than a nurse, she became a doctor, and rather than a flight attendant, Barbie became a pilot. The evolution of her occupations shows that women could be anything. In 2000, Mattel released President Barbie, making her the first female president.

So can Barbie be a role model? Her resume says yes, but does her failed attempts at being multicultural disqualify her?

“Physical aspect aside and just focusing on the life she has lived you can see the positive side of Barbie. She is making strides, she is doing jobs that other girls dream about having. She has done so much besides living in the dream house and being the cheerleader,” Booker said.