National holiday celebrates all types of women

By Gus Bode

Every woman is bootylicious. Just ask Beyonce Knowles.

Knowles, who wrote the 2001 hit single for her group, Destiny’s Child, has said the song is about celebrating the many shapes and sizes of the female form. She said being sexy does not necessarily mean maintaining a certain bodily dimension. The term has increased popularity. The Oxford English Dictionary recently made bootylicious one of its newest inductees this year.

“I think everyone should accept who they are and know that they’re like that for a reason – everyone’s not supposed to be the same,” Knowles told Glamour magazine in its September issue.


Not every woman has embraced the confidence Knowles sings about. The National Eating Disorders Association reported 80 percent of women surveyed are dissatisfied with their appearance, and 91 percent of college women had attempted to control their weight through dieting.

The media is often blamed for this negative effect on women. Mavra Stark, member of the National Organization for Women Foundation’s New Jersey branch, wrote in an article Monday saying she believes the images shown in advertising, movies and television make women feel inadequate because they cannot look like that.

“Many of us are harmed irreparably by trying to make ourselves fit those images,” she said.

To fight these statistics, NOW Foundation named Sept. 25, 1998, as the first annual Love Your Body Day. This is the first national day of action to speak out against ads and images of women that are offensive and disrespectful to women’s bodies and lives. The holiday has been successful ever since, and the holiday will be celebrating its sixth annual event Wednesday.

Patricia Ireland, who was president for NOW Foundation from 1991 until 2001, had previously stated in a 1998 press release that the organization hopes to make powerful strides with Love Your Body Day.

“The harmful and negative images of women can be damaging to our sense of self-worth and keep us focused on our body parts rather than on our whole selves. These images distract women from pursuing full equality. Through this campaign, we will take the power to control our own images and lives,” Ireland said.

Activists across the nation will hold rallies, pickets and house parties as a part of the NOW Foundation’s Women’s Health Project.


Another suggestion the NOW Foundation made to celebrate Love Your Body Day is to play host to an “Indulgence Party.” The party encourages women to wear anything that makes them feel good about themselves, such as sweat suits and pajamas, and serve unhealthy foods without guilt.

The organization will provide a copy of the video “Redefining Liberation” to any party that houses five or more guests. The video exploits the manipulative advertising tactics of tobacco, fashion and alcohol industries.

Interested participants can also go online and send a tax-deductible contribution to help the NOW Foundation further women’s rights through education and litigation.

Though SIUC student Shalanda Stokes has never heard of Love Your Body Day, she said she believes a national holiday devoted to women is a good idea.

“I think it’s great,” said Stokes, a senior in advertising from Ottawa. “It allows women of all body types the chance to celebrate their inner beauty.”

Her friend, Teia Sanders, who came from Tuskegee University in Alabama to visit Stokes during Homecoming weekend, agrees the holiday is necessary but believes women should be celebrated throughout the year.

“With the media and fashion industry always trying to portray a certain body image, it is important to celebrate who you are,” Sanders said. “It builds confidence and self esteem.”

Love Your Body Day only comes around once a year, but Stark believes the concept should be year-round.

“It occurs to me that, although Oct. 15 is the appointed day for this activity, it’s silly to hold strictly to that date,” Stark said. “The important thing is to get this out to our youngsters.”