By Andi Hubbell
When senior Becca Arsham co-founded The Love Movement (TLM) in fall 2010, she envisioned the organization as an ideal means of bringing students together on the behalf of meaningful causes.
“We wanted to create a group that would make it easy to get together and do good things,” said Arsham.
Tonight’s body image awareness-themed TerPoets event, which integrated presentations from Arsham and other TLM members, embodied TLM’s philosophies of activism and acceptance. The open-mic night both encouraged attendees to maintain a positive body image and focused on fostering a strong sense of community.
When host Jonah Potasznik first approached the microphone, he immediately established a welcoming atmosphere, encouraging anyone interested to share their experiences with eating disorders. Potasznik, a sophomore, then recited a comical poem about his self-assured body image, setting an initially light tone for what was ultimately a moving evening.
Freshman Nikki Richards, a first-time TerPoets performer, saw tonight’s event as an opportunity to stress the prevalence of eating disorders.
“I want people to recognize that it’s a big issue,” she said. “You can’t always tell but it affects a lot of people. A negative comment about someone’s appearance can set it off.”
Richards recited a poem about her past struggles with bulimia, repeatedly emphasizing that she doesn’t feel like “that girl”—the stereotypical troubled teen that people commonly associate with eating disorders. In conjunction with TLM’s pre-intermission presentation of statistics about women’s body images, Richards’ poem starkly conveyed how widespread eating disorders are in the U.S.
In addition to addressing eating disorders, other performers’ works delved into a range of body image issues. Junior Marlena Chertock channeled her experiences with scoliosis into an essay titled “Short Curve,” while freshman Tyler Kutner described his chronic pain and muscle spasms in poems titled “Spasm Song” and “Posture.” Junior Anika Warner, on the other hand, portrayed her pride in her racial background through her poem “Beautiful Black Woman Empire.”
Although a majority of performers recited poems, some also read prose, and a few performed musical numbers. Senior Patrick McGinty and sophomore Mark Altskan played two original songs titled “Points for Honesty” and “Medals,” with McGinty on guitar and Altskan on the violin.
Altogether, beyond body image awareness the overall theme of the evening appeared to be embracing diversity. With its tolerant attitude and relaxed atmosphere, the TerPoets event promoted a sense of unity among performers and audience members alike.
“The reason [TerPoets is] able to do stuff like this is because we have a community here,” said Potasznik.
According to Arsham, TLM, which has acquired 200 members since its conception, is an equally accepting organization.
“Everyone is great for the Love Movement,” said Arsham.
View more photos of the body image themed TerPoets here.