Body Banter brings body confidence to community


Photo by Mike Vargas

Story by Lucy Smithwick, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Messages reading “Be-YOU-tiful,” “We bee-lieve in you” and “Hey, look! A queen” scatter the walls of busy hallways and bathrooms of East Meck after the school’s first Body Banter meeting.

Steph Ng, a student at Duke University, created this club to make space for the youth to “change the conversation about body image.” After having struggled with body issues throughout her life, senior Molly Warren recognized the potential the club showed for the East community.

“I struggled with disordered eating when I was in middle school and at the very beginning of high school. It was awful,” Warren said. “I don’t think anyone should have to go through that. We should be way more accepting and create a much better sense of community around accepting body image and accepting people for who they are.”

Dedicated to preaching the aims of Body Banter to the East community, Warren wants to focus on first impressions and subtle assumptions that everyone has about others. 

“It is so ingrained in our society that weight equals worth, which is not true,” Warren said. “Your worth is so much more than your weight, shape, or size.”

The rest of the Body Banter representatives are just as passionate about self-love as Warren is. Junior Gloria Boykin hasn’t struggled with an eating disorder herself, but she does believe that people’s connections with food should be better than they tend to be.

“Even though I haven’t necessarily had an eating disorder, I think everyone’s relationship with food can improve,” Boykin said. “I’ve had times when [my relationship with food] hasn’t been great, but I mainly participated because I wanted to support other people who had been there.” 

At the first meeting hosted by Body Banter, students were given the opportunity to write positive messages to spread around the school. Even though the stickiness of most of the Post-It Notes did not survive the wear and tear of the school day, the messages were briefly hung in bathrooms and hallways with the intention of encouraging students and teachers.

“I thought that was a very interactive and just a nice, positive activity for us to do,” senior Rute Ayalew, an attendee of the first meeting, said.

Future meetings focus on overall body positivity, health at every size of body, self care and how to do it right, and more. However, the activity that Warren is most excited about is one called “Liberate Your Plate.”

“You basically talk about breaking down food for more than just its nutritional value,” Warren said. “Food is not just a nutritional experience, it’s also a social experience. There’s an emotional aspect of it. It’s breaking down food and what it represents in our lives as a whole.”

For any students interested in joining Body Banter, meetings are open and are held every other Thursday. Students are also free to join the club and represent East at the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) walk at McAlpine Creek Park on Oct. 26. 

“The purpose of the NEDA walk is to raise money for eating disorder services, treatment, prevention and more for individuals struggling with eating disorders or disordered eating behaviors in our community,” Warren said.

Body Banter’s message of unwavering support has impacted students throughout the school and is an organization that was needed for the community.

“We need to start deconstructing the notion that being attractive comes with a certain set of guidelines,” Warren said. “Instead we need to create an environment that allows everybody to thrive in whatever body they live in.”