This Valentine’s Day season, SHADES and Active Minds want you to be your own valentine at the inaugural “Love Yourself: Body & Sex Positivity Carnival.”
The event, which will be held in Old Union Hall in the University Union at 7 p.m. on Saturday, aims to integrate themes of self-love and openness.
Louis LaSpina, a public relations intern for Active Minds and a junior double-majoring in psychology and human development, said that the missions of both SHADES and Active Minds are to connect students of different backgrounds, personalities and interests, and to promote the idea of being comfortable in your own body.
“Body positivity is incredibly important because our minds are so powerful that they can literally distort the way we view ourselves,” LaSpina said. “In severe enough cases, these distortions can be recognized as a symptom of an eating disorder or even result in mental illnesses focused on self-image like body dysmorphic disorder.”
According to LaSpina, normal physical quirks like stretch marks, body hair and pimples are often seen as negative traits due to an obsession with perfection. Western beauty ideals also tend to praise fair skin over darker skin tones.
“Many people believe that beauty is found in extremely limited Eurocentric standards,” LaSpina said. “SHADES and Active Minds hope to debunk these stereotypes by encouraging self-love and body positivity for everyone.”
The main attractions at the carnival are the interactive games and activities that students can play for a chance to win a variety of prizes, which range from a 5-pound arm-length sex toy to a $2,300 Kaplan scholarship. LaSpina said that over a dozen student groups and campus and community resources will be joining together to host the activities. The more activities and games students play, the more tickets they can acquire to win the prize of their choice.
There will be also group fitness activities, including Zumba taught by Sarah Strupp-Levitsky, a fitness instructor at the East Gym and a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience.
Eddie Wang, a junior majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, said that the ideas behind the carnival are important ones.
“Most people think of Valentine’s Day as just a holiday of celebrating your significant other by showering them with heart-shaped candy and expensive gifts,” Wang said. “The most important thing is to appreciate and accept yourself and your friends everyday.”
Aside from the interactive entertainment and unique prizes, the ultimate goal of the Body & Sex Positivity Carnival is to create an open environment for students to discuss taboo topics relating to sex, LaSpina said.
“Because Valentine’s Day promotes love through a limited lens, we believe it’s imperative to engage community members in an event that supports self-love,” LaSpina said. “We want people to walk away from our event feeling like a whole person and being reminded that they are worthy of love and happiness.”
SHADES and Active Minds’ “Love Yourself: Body & Sex Positivity Carnival” will take place on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in Old Union Hall in the University Union.