A peaceful Friday afternoon saw Michelle Marini, Northeastern University’s third-year psychology student, outside the Curry Student Center, walking with a yellow Wiffle ball bat. “Let’s bash the fat talk!” Marini yelled at the top of her voice and then, students were coaxed to participate to ‘bash’ the already dangling, pink piñata. Several students took turns to achieve the goal, until Karan Assudani finally busted the piñata, out of which not chocolates, but a bit of paper floated down to the ground. Turns out, the paper had a plethora of positive, good quotes about body image. They came from the efforts of Marini’s student group, Northeastern’s Eating and Weight Concerns Project (NEWCOPE).
NEWCOPE loves to host events and activities related to their aim and this was one of those activities. This piñata-event was in collaboration with ‘Fat Talk Free Week’, which a nationwide campaign launched by the sorority ‘Delta Delta Delta’. Northeastern doesn’t have this sorority; however, the campaign’s goals are as similar as NEWCOPE’s goals, making it easier to collaborate, according to the organisation’s president Emily Haigney.
“We do a lot of outreach, and this is one way we can get the word out to students,” Haigney said.
NEWCOPE is all about creating awareness and shedding light on topics such as problematic eating, exercise behaviours, eating disorders, self-esteem, body image, and nutrition. This organisation not only has a drop-in centre at 314 Ell Hall, but also a hotline, referrals, and social networking web sites, and other platforms for students who are seeking help for them as well as their family and friends. Anonymous and confidential counselling are also provided.
NEWCOPE was first found in 1995, which started off as a project in Professor Emily Fox-Kales’ course at the University. Fox-Kales is a clinical psychologist, specialising in treating eating disorders and body disturbances. She has written a book called ‘Body Shots’ where she tells how the TV creates a faux world for us, which are subtly pressured to follow.
“I think college-aged students, both male and female, are very vulnerable to not just their own body image struggles but also the media environment in which they grow up,” she said.