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Body Language: a body positivity event

From left to right: Alondra Sotelo, Annie Vu, Esperanza Quintana, and Olivia Neece.
Photo: Taelar Pollmann · The Sentry

With Suicide Awareness Week having passed less than a month ago, mental health is especially on everyone’s minds. Following this trend, the CU Denver Student Government Association (SGA) recently hosted Body Language, a body positivity event seeking to educate students on eating disorders and offer help to those currently suffering, on Sept. 25 in the Wellness Center courtyard. 

Lydia Rhino organized Body Language. Although she is set to graduate in one year, there was a time when she thought she never would. Rhino struggled with eating disorders personally, even leaving college at one point to seek treatment, thinking at the time that she would never be able to return to finish her degree.  

“I want people to reach out for help, that’s the biggest thing,” Rhino said. She highlights the importance of speaking up about one’s struggles, concluding, “Silence keeps you sick.” 

Body Language was constructed with several main goals in mind: “letting people know what resources they have, promoting confidence with everyone’s body, and…promoting [the mental health] community,” both on campus and in greater Denver.  

Several tables representing various resources were present at the event, as well as free Panera for lunch. The tables present encompassed both on and off-campus resources. From CU Denver, there was the Office of Case Management, Health and Wellness Center, Counseling Center, and the Phoenix Center. Also present was the Eating Disorder Foundation and the Eating Recovery Center. Notably, these resources had a mix of physical and mental health-oriented focuses, as eating disorders fall into both categories.  

“I think people forget that [mental illness] is what eating disorders are,” Rhino said. “Eating disorders are a trifecta…mental illness, depression, anxiety [are] heavily correlated with them.” 

The topic of eating disorders is especially relevant to college campuses because the most prominent demographic is from ages 18 to 24. Rhino also recognized that college students are more vulnerable to mental health issues due to unfamiliar surroundings and social and course-related stresses.  

Above all else, the Body Language event, and Lydia Rhino in turn, highlighted both that one doesn’t have to tackle mental illness alone and that it is not shameful to ask for help. 

Rhino cited her own battle with eating disorders, saying, “I thought I had to do everything by myself and that I created the problem myself. It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t create it and that… asking for help is in my control.”  

Rhino also imparted the sentiment that no matter how strong a person is, they are not immune to mental health problems. “You can be the strongest person and still struggle. Struggling doesn’t discriminate.” 

Students grappling with eating disorders or any other mental illnesses can reach out to any of the resources listed here for help. All on-campus resources are included with student tuition. 

Lydia Rhino encourages anyone needing help to reach out to her at her student email: 

lydia.rhino@ucdenver.edu.

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