With Frisky February coming to an end and National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) Week about to begin, our campus community has a unique opportunity to reflect on our relationships with our bodies, how we practice self-care and the ways we can empower ourselves and others to challenge harmful narratives and stereotypes surrounding sexual health and disordered eating.

To help spark this reflection, the Barnes Center at The Arch and cross-campus partners have invited Sonya Renee Taylor to campus as the Frisky February and NEDA Week keynote speaker on Monday, March 2, at 7 p.m. In her lecture, “The Body Is Not an Apology: From Body Empowerment to Global Justice,” Sonya will explore the intersection of bodies, identity and social justice and how radical self-love is a tool for social justice and global transformation.

So what does self-love mean to you? And how do you practice it? We asked the Barnes Center Peer Educators for their thoughts on self-love, self-care and ways to find it. Here’s what a few have to say:

“Self-love to me means acceptance of where I currently am in my life and not worrying about what I look like or what I have yet to accomplish. I practice self-care by listening to what my body and mind is telling me, taking breaks when necessary and knowing when I’m taking on too much. I care about my sleep schedule a lot and talk to my friends and sister at home whenever I need her!” – Clare Peppler ‘22 (she/hers), PEEHRS

“To me, self-love means taking care of your internal needs in such a way to maintain good physical, mental, and emotional health. I think the benefit of self-love rests in the lack of needing validation from others because to me, self-care is self-validating. I practice self-care by listening to music, watching TV with completely unhealthy snacks (oops), playing the piano and trumpet, cooking, travelling and practicing photography. For anyone looking to practice more self-care, I would recommend that they do hobbies that they enjoy.” – Patrick Lee ’21 (he/him), Be Wise

“To me, self love means that you are yourself unconditionally. You know that people will love you for you. I practice self care by listening to happy music. These songs range in genre but they just make me feel good!” – Richelle Calderon ’20 (she/hers), PEEHRS

“To me self-love is believing in my capacity to make it through. In practice, that looks like reframing negative thoughts into positive or constructive ones and trying to be mindful of the expectations I have for myself. I practice self-care by establishing boundaries, so I can have time to myself and to practice my hobbies and by trying to do activities every week that get my body moving and the endorphins flowing! I also try to be mindful of time spent with friends so I can enjoy it instead of stressing about it.” – Deb Orieta ’20 (they/them), PEEHRS

“To me, self-love means listening to my body and understanding what it needs, as well as understanding when my emotional and physical reserves are limited and choosing to find a way to recharge my mind and body. I love cooking Italian food (making fresh pasta is stressful but worth it), baking and spending time watching my favorite movies!” – Samantha Ryan ’20 (she/hers), SAHME

“To me, self-love means to be content with my current state and to try to be my best self—the self I want to be, not the self that others see me as. I strive to make sure those both align, but my opinion of myself is most important. Recently, since I have my cat on campus now, I like to lounge around with him and talk to him. He’s my best friend, despite him being unable to respond back to me.” – Mars Ann Murray ‘22 (she/hers), PEEHRS

Brandon Langford:(he/him)  “Ultimately, self-love is finding and becoming comfortable with myself to obtain happiness. I like listening to music, meditating, using face masks and cooking/eating food from my culture. My advice would be to seek out what you enjoy and make sure you have time to do it every now and then.” – Brandon Langford G ’21 (he/him), Barnes Center Health Promotion Graduate Assistant

“Self love to me means being content with my actions and the actions of those around me, basically being happy. I practice self care by making sure I sleep enough and not spend all of my time doing work, and make sure I see my friends.” – Sierra Rose St. Louis ’20 (she/hers), PEEHRS

Learn more about Sonya Renee Taylor and The Body Is Not an Apology by visiting her website.