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ASU concludes ‘A Month to Celebrate You’



Article Published: Oct. 20, 2011 | Modified: Oct. 26, 2011
ASU concludes ‘A Month to Celebrate You’


You are worthy of celebrating.

That’s the message Appalachian State University’s Counseling and Psychological Services and the High Country Beauty Mark Coalition have been delivering throughout October.

Since 2009, the two groups have presented “A Month to Celebrate You,” a series of events that promote self-esteem, self-acceptance and empowerment amongst the ASU and High Country community.

The idea for the celebration was a by-product of “Beauty Mark,” a 2008 documentary by filmmaker Diane Israel. Israel is a former triathlete who was forced into retirement at age 28 due to chronic fatigue, a result of many years of abuse to her own body through exercise anorexia. In “Beauty Mark,” she examined self-image and the influences behind people’s striving for physical perfection.

Kathie Billing, a resident of the High Country and a friend of Israel, approached ASU about using the film to encourage dialogue about body issues. ASU not only presented the film, but invited Israel to host a discussion with the community about the film and her experience of rebounding from self-abuse in the name of acceptance.

The university also oversaw the creation of the High Country Beauty Mark Coalition as a result.

Denise Lovin, a psychologist at the ASU Counseling and Psychological Services Center, said the group is comprised of “folks who wanted to work together to promote the message of self-esteem and focus on how we can better foster competence in ourselves, our children and community.”

The town of Boone also jumped on board, with Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson signing the official proclamation making October “A Month to Celebrate You.” Clawson called upon citizens, community agencies, religious organizations, medical facilities and businesses to embrace activities aimed at promoting positive body image, self-acceptance and healthy lifestyles.

As ASU celebrates its third year of events inspired by “Beauty Mark,” Clawson remains a major proponent.

“Self-esteem is so important, and we all have to realize that we’re all different and that’s a good thing and not a bad thing,” she said. “I think we need to feel good about who we are and not have to feel like we have to be a certain image or a certain type.”

Even after a few years of dialogue, body image continues to be a hot topic on the ASU campus and in the High Country, providing a platform for the continuance of the “Celebrate You” events.

“National statistics indicate one out of four college women struggle with eating disorder behaviors,” Lovin said. “Young girls and even men struggle with body image.”

Body image issues aren’t limited to college students and young people. Lovin said everyone is implicated.

“I think it’s an issue that a lot of people are concerned with, not only in themselves, but with fellow students, children and everyone,” she said.

Lovin said ASU and the High Country Beauty Mark Coalition is committed to promoting confidence amongst the student population and the High Country, an effort that will create a healthier community.

”Beauty Mark” and Diane Israel have been an important component in this process.

“We’ve continued to bring her back because people are inspired by her message and story and the interactions they have with her and the reflections,” Lovin said. “It’s been worth the investment because she’s had a positive impact on people’s lives on campus and the community.”

Israel said the response to “Beauty Mark” has been a freeing and healing experience.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity,” she said. “The feedback has created an opportunity for people to have a conversation. It’s opened doors to being vulnerable and celebrating who we really are. We don’t have to apologize for who we are.”

She said the High Country has been beautifully receptive of her film, and she enjoys participating in the continued conversation around the idea of self-acceptance.

“It’s become kind of habit to come to Boone,” Israel said. “I love your community, and it seems responsive to me. Boone has started a whole movement. It’s really extraordinary how the community comes around and organizes around this.”

“Beauty Mark” will be shown at I.G. Greer Cinema on the ASU Campus on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. There is no cost to attend the public event. Israel will lead a question and answer session following the film.

Israel will also be on the ASU campus Wednesday, Oct. 26, for “Reflections,” a discussion about “Beauty Mark” and issues covered in the film. “Reflections” with Diane Israel will take place in the Multicultural Center in the Plemmons Student Union at 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information about “A Month To Celebrate You,” visit http://www.celebrateyou.appstate.edu or call Denise Lovin at (828) 262-3180.

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