by Sabrina Guilbeault ’18
Assistant News Editor
Taking a fitness class during Inside Out Week at Providence College is all about self-empowerment. Colorful quotes such as “I am strong. I am beautiful. I am enough” are written across the mirrors in the fitness studio, so that from every angle the theme of the week can be echoed during the class.
The way college students view their bodies and inner selves is of the utmost of importance, and through the Department of Recreational Sports, Inside Out Week provides students with the platform to love themselves for who they are.
Inside Out Week was first introduced to the College last year after Courtney Mackey, the fitness and programming assistant director, joined the PC community after coming from the University of Rhode Island. “We want students to learn to embody love for themselves,” she said.
“This week is so extremely important to me because it serves as a reminder to stop and check in with myself and be kind to my body,” said Gabi DeParis ’18, who has been volunteering throughout the week. “This week is a way to get a conversation started and let people know that they aren’t alone and that they aren’t the only ones feeling the way they do.”
Mackey explained that the organizers of the event used feedback from students last year to make this week successful, which resulted in lots of energy going into the info booths in front of Concannon Gym. The booths are displayed every day during the week, with one table dedicated to the theme of the day. Monday for example, was all about “The Body Project,” which explains that today “the body has become women’s primary object, creating a degree of self-consciousness and dissatisfaction that is pervasive and dangerous.”
Starting this past Monday, Inside Out Week aligns itself with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, a week dedicated to talking about health concerns while celebrating recoveries, busting myths, and destigmatizing the issue. As for the official event at PC dedicated to talking about eating disorders, Sarah McCutcheon, a Project HEAL Rhode Island co-leader, was invited to speak Thursday night and shared her story of her struggle with anorexia and her journey to recovery.
McCutcheon was open and honest as she shared her story, and explained that in our society, there are a lot of prejudices against bigger bodies, and this is a stigma we need to fight. “Eating disorders are not things that go away on their own,” she said, while emphasizing the importance of getting a medical professional involved right away and of finding the right therapist.
She explained that the road to discovery is not easy, although she wishes it could be, and how it took a long time for the voices in her head saying “not to eat” and to “exercise more” to turn off. “Recovery feels like freedom,” McCutcheon said. “Body image is one of the hardest things to work on, but it is so important to feel grateful for your body.”
Other events that were held this week include an “Embody Love Workshop,” a class taught by Motherland Dance Group, and extra fitness classes that were added to the already standing fitness schedule. If students attend at least five events throughout the week, they will have the chance to win either a T-shirt or tote bag at the end of the week.
Brittany Price ’18, a fitness instructor, taught a special class just for Inside Out Week called “You Do You Groove.” At the beginning of her class, Price asked students to write and reflect on attributes they like about themselves on sticky notes, and then placed them around the mirrors. “My favorite part of teaching this week is seeing people’s refreshed, genuine interest in working out for the right reasons—not just to ‘get skinny’ or ‘get jacked,’ but to feel good,” she said.
Mackey explained that this week, students will learn from the “outside” before going inwards. “You have to be aware what’s causing you to objectify yourself,” she said. “Each day we will unveil our self-map and work our way inwards.” The “self-map” includes the physical body, the energy body, the wisdom body, and the bliss body. Each of these leads us to our deepest selves or souls that is the innermost of who we are.
Just as another quote found on the studio mirror says, “Whatever is good for the soul, do that,” and this week is all about doing what is good for the soul. Thursday was all about themes of self-love through diversity and unity, reflecting that although we may feel different, our inner souls bond us as one. Friday’s theme, “Living from the Inside Out” is more holistic and plans to tie the themes of the week together.
“The week is also about activism,” said Mackey, who explained we should all be aware of how we’re talking to one another. “When you feel love so deeply for yourself, you radiate it, and it helps others to be much more open and receptive to feeling this embodiment of love as well.”
“Loving your body is the best resolution and we are only given one body so we should do our best to treat it right,” said DeParis. “Instead of using your energy to come up with reasons to dislike your body, use it to come up with even more reasons to love and appreciate all it does for you.”