Blog Prompt: Write a thank-you note to the part of your body you like the least.

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Dear upper arm area,

I am thankful that I have you.

I don’t wear sleeveless shirts because you jiggle when I wave.  When I pose for pictures, you’re the first thing that I notice.  I look at you and think about how chubby you are and that I need to exercise you and tone you.  You have had a large, dark birthmark on you your whole life.  It never bothers me, but I always have to explain to people why it’s there and that gets on my nerves.  I don’t think anybody else notices you, but I do.

Despite all of the negative things I feel about you, I love you.  I know that you do many essential things for me.  You help me eat, drive, write, shake hands and hug the people that I love.  You do too many things for me to list.  I know that instead of complaining about you I should nurture you, because without you my life would be severely different.  I should exercise you, building your strength.  I should wear sunscreen and protect you from the harsh sun.  I will do a better job of thanking you and think less superficial things about you.

I know that I shouldn’t be ashamed of you and I appreciate you.
Georgia Tech Staff Member

Graduate Student

 

Have you ever done something uncomfortable in the name of perceived beauty?

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Have You Ever Done Something Uncomfortable in the Name of Perceived Beauty?

Yes.   Growing up with long, straight hair I always wanted something different –  curls.   I could never do much with long, straight hair.  I always thought curls represented feminine beauty.  I rarely made a change to my hair until I was about 18 and a freshman in college.  I remember getting different cuts and trims, but nothing drastic – always wanting curls.  And it was fitting that my roommate freshman year had naturally curly hair – the hair I longed for.  She wanted straight hair, so go figure.  After college and into my first professional job I started to experiment with hairstyles, long, short, bangs, no bangs, layers but still no curls until I got engaged.   I was going to have curly hair at our wedding if I had to pay for it, which I did in more ways than one.

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One afternoon, about 6 weeks before our wedding, I went and sat in a black salon chair for four long hours and left with manufactured curls.  It was THE most painful experience of my life, right up there with childbirth.  Through growing up, getting my hair done for formals, and being in weddings, I knew I had a sensitive head but this was beyond torture in my opinion.

I’m pretty sure I had about twenty pounds of curling equipment on my head and just remember how sore and tight the stylist pulled and pulled.  I asked for this.  The worst was when she was taking out the tubes and washing the chemicals out of my hair – I was pretty sure my hair would fall out.  However, the end result was this, curls.

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They were pretty for about 6 weeks until I went for my pre-wedding hair trial and the stylist combed out my hair and in the process, the nice, spiral curls I’d paid for and longed for all this time.  My hair never looked the same after that, and I remember ON my wedding day needing to use the curling iron to make my hair curly.

Several years after my hair wouldn’t grow and it took forever to get all the curl out of my hair.  I would get it cut shorter and shorter trying to get any remaining wave out – finally after 4 years, one pregnancy and some raging hormones, my hair is long and straight and I love it.

Staff – Colleen

Georgia Tech Campaign for Everybody – there’s more!

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Georgia Tech Campaign for EveryBody2013 copy We hope you’ve had a chance to come out to our other programs earlier this week! Here is what we have going on today through March 1st.

Indoor Cycling: Wednesday, February 27, 6:30am, CRC

CRC members are invited to take this GIT FIT class for no charge.  Visit www.crc.gatech.edu for more information.

Go T.E.CH Health Talk: Sizing Up Leaders: Thursday, February 28, 3:00pm, Flag Building 141

Join us to talk more about how body image and size influence leadership.  Visit www.gotech.gatech.edu for more information.

Piloxing: Thursday, February 28, 5:30pm, CRC

CRC members are invited to take this GIT FIT class for no charge.  Visit www.crc.gatech.edu for more information.

Women’s Night on the Wall: Friday, March 1, 7pm, CRC Climbing Wall

Have you ever wanted to try the rock climbing wall at the CRC?  Now is your chance!  This event is co-sponsored by Women’s Awareness Month and ORGT.  Participants will be charged a small fee for equipment rental.

Tech Chef Cooking Competition: Saturday, March 2, 9am-4pm, Woodruff Dining Hall

This program is a nutritional cooking competition for GT students.  Participants and spectators are welcome.  Visit www.techchef.gatech.edu for more information.  It is co-sponsored by CHEFS (Cooks for Heritage, Fellowship and Service).

Flirty Girl Fitness: Date and Time TBA, CRC

Join us for easy to learn dance routines that provide the perfect combination of cardio and strength training. Co-sponsored by Colleges Against Cancer.

Georgia Tech Campaign for EveryBody Week

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Georgia Tech Campaign for EveryBody2013 copyGeorgia Tech’s fifth annual Georgia Tech  Campaign for EveryBody Week, will be held February 25-March 2, 2013. During this week GT students of all genders will have the opportunity to examine their perceptions of body image and participate in discussions about body image issues on-campus. Activities are sponsored by the GT Body Image Committee.  Events include:

Georgia Tech Campaign for EveryBody Week Kickoff: Monday, February 25, 11am-1pm, Tech Walkway

GT student volunteers will staff a table on Tech Walkway with an interactive activity.  Promotional materials will be available to encourage participation in week’s events.  This event is organized by the Body Image Committee Student Advisory Committee.

Power Yoga Class: Monday, February 25, 7:30pm, CRC

CRC members are invited to take this GIT FIT class for no charge.  Visit www.crc.gatech.edu for more information.

Screening for Disordered Eating Habits: Tuesday, February 26, 11am-2pm, Piedmont Room, Student Center

A screening will be administered by the GT Eating Disorder Team for students to assess their risk for disordered eating.  It is co-sponsored by the Counseling Center.  Visit www.collegeresponse.org to take the online screening.

Spoken Word Artist – Caroline Rothstein: Tuesday, February 26, 7pm, Student Center Theater

This program will be a solo spoken word artist performance by Caroline Rothstein.  Caroline Rothstein is a New York City-based writer, performer, and eating disorder recovery advocate, who specializes in spoken word poetry, theater, creative nonfiction, journalism, and performance art.  This program is co-sponsored by Erato and Campus Services.

Treadfit Class: Tuesday, February 26, 12:00pm, CRC

CRC members are invited to take this GIT FIT class for no charge.  Visit www.crc.gatech.edu for more information.

More events later this week!

Body Modification As An Art

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To me, Body Modification is an art form growing in recognition. Soon passing are the days in which the more common forms (tattoos, piercings) are considered taboo. I believe each individual will have their own personal reasons for Modification; whether they be aesthetics, spirituality, memorial, or any other countless reason.
I myself do many forms of Body Modification. I have quite a collection of tattoos, 10 active piercings, a scar from a purposefully rejected piercing (which would fall under the broad category of scarification), and I also perform in a body suspension group (Prentice Suspensions). Each of these forms illicits numerous reactions, which I wish to discuss.

To begin my foray into modification, I had my lip pierced at the age of 19. This came from a growing need to conquer an abject fear of needles. When I was only 5, I was diagnosed with leukemia. I went through 3 months of treatment, and after 5 false positives, it was realized that I actually did NOT have the disease. I never made it to chemo (thankfully) but was CONSTANTLY stuck with needles almost every day for months. It took a toll on my young brain, to the point that I had to be basically held down for something as small as a finger prick. When I entered college at Georgia Tech, I became a Theta Xi. The greek community encouraged philanthropy, and for me, it presented an opportunity to get over my fear. I began giving blood and platelets, as often as possible. It was a mental challenge for me every time, but I eventually started to cool out about it.I was always fascinated with piercings, but never had the constitution to do it before this time. Finally, I decided one night to finally get over my fear, and go get pierced. I went to Virtue and Vice on Cheshire Bridge, and had a wonderful experience being pierced. The piercer performed the piercing quickly and professionally, leaving me wondering what I had been scared about the whole time. My brothers were slightly amazed when i showed up with it, but was accepted nonetheless. My parents were none too happy about it. If only they knew what was in store for me later…

Tattoos were the next step. The idea of a tattoo machine (please don’t call it a gun) repeatedly puncturing your skin to permanently put pigment there also frightened me. But the lasting art that adorns your body more than made up for  it. My first tattoo was done by a friend at his house (WHICH I STRONGLY RECOMMEND AGAINST). It was a Koi fish on the left of my chest, quickly followed by another on the right side, swimming the opposite direction. This was done as a recognition to my birthday, which falls on March 14th, making me a Pisces. This tattoo was a recognition of part of my investigation into spirituality. Since, I have been worked on by countless artists around the nation. I have a full chest plate, a good start on my left rib side panel, in the middle of a left arm sleeve, and my legs are also covered. I also have two hand tattoos, each that have incredible significance in my life.
All my tattoos illicit different reactions. I get compliments all the time of the quality of work, specifically on my arm, since it is one of the most noticeable in everyday life. I get laughs about my left leg, because it is covered in tattoos that many find ridiculous, from an angry pickle, to a my little death pony, even a crayola sketch of a zombified wombat riding a pterodactyl in a rain of scissors. All of my tattoos have a meaning to me, whether silly, or incredibly serious. But they all spark conversation as to why I get tattooed, and enables me to have the opportunity to educate people about the tattoo process, plus the pros and cons of tattoos in general. I have worked the front desk at a couple shops, and it continually amazes me the lack of education that people have about the procedure.

Finally, probably the most “extreme” version of body modification that I participate in is also the one that is the most important to me: body suspension. The term is something most people are unfamiliar with, and the only encounters they have with it are brief viewings in movies such as “The Cell”, or more often than not I get the “Oh, so you’re like Criss Angel!”.  While I appreciate his willingness to bring body suspension to the public, there are a million and twelve reasons why someone will undergo this modification. For me, and the group I perform with, it has two purposes. First of all, we do it as a performance art, which amazes many people. The common person doesn’t think to lump people hanging from 8-gauge hooks in their body to be in the same vein as something as traditional as ballet. It takes an open mind to watch, but I assure you our shows are intense and fun to watch. We feed off the crowds energy, while the crowd feeds off of ours. Nothing can describe the feeling of “flying” while a huge mass of people are screaming for you. Also, our group performs in memorial to a fallen brother, Josh Prentice, who was shot and killed three years ago. Our name directly honors him, and the way we portray the art of suspension is in hopes to strive for the standards that he set as a body suspension performer himself, from sterility procedures to performance and everything in between.

Finally, I want to briefly discuss body modification and the impact it has on the general public. Most people have their own ideas about what is safe, sane, or even consensual. To someone such as myself, there are few limits to what can be done to your own body and not be viewed as “crazy” or “a freak” or even dangerous. But to many, the thought of piercing flesh with a hook and then quite literally hanging from these hooks is stupid, or even worse, shows a breakdown in someone’s mental capacity. I like to draw an analogy when discussing it with people, that  sounds crazy at first, but makes sense. Exercising is a form of body modification. You put yourself under a sort of stress, creating micro tears in your muscles, and basically hurting your body to sculpt it in a way more pleasing to yourself. There is destruction of body tissue, there is a healing process, there is a mental and chemical high associated with exercise. All of these are the exact things that happen to a person performing a suspension as well, just played out in a different form. While suspension is by no means for everyone, it can be for some people. It has roots in many different cultures (the Oh-kee-pa suspension of the Mandan tribe, the Sundance of the Native American Plains tribes), and modern suspension is performed for a plethora of reasons. For most observers, suspension can be a beautiful thing to watch. For the person being suspended, it can be a performance art, or can be a deeply private thing that only occurs within a closed environment that is watched by trusted individuals only. But for all parties involved, suspension is a form of body modification that while extreme, can be gorgeous, expressive, and above all, pleasing to the individual undergoing the procedure.

Alumni – Clay

originally posted April 2010

Design & Experience

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The creation of my first tattoo revolved around two concepts: the design and the experience.  Being a permanent feature on my body, I wanted my first tattoo to have a significant meaning to my life.  After great deliberation, I thought of the impact of one of my Fraternity’s symbols on my life.  Even though I cannot discuss its ritualistic significance, I can discuss an informal interpretation of the symbol.  During a recruitment seminar for my Fraternity, a representative from the national headquarters interpreted the symbol as being a balance between one’s personal, family, and professional/work life.  Like a pyramid, if any of the sides are out of equilibrium, the shape will topple over.  This is the same case as with my life, because if my personal, family, or professional/work life consume more time than the others, my life will no longer be in balance.  This tattoo serves as a constant reminder that my life requires balance in order to succeed, as well as following the precepts set forth by my Fraternity.

The experience of getting my first tattoo was just as important as the design.  I wanted to choose a tattoo parlor that would create my design properly and with a high regard for hygiene and cleanliness.  Through word-of-mouth, I heard of multiple positive reviews of a tattoo parlor near campus on 10th Street, Overlord Tattoo.  Even though I had my design ready and the assurance of Overlord Tattoo being a high caliber tattoo parlor, I was still very nervous of making such a big step in my life.  Later that week, one of my closest Fraternity brothers came by my room with interest in getting a ritualistic symbol tattooed on his body as well and suggested that we get tattooed at the same location.  Being able to share this experience with one of my closest friends alleviated my anxiety and I decided to go through with it.

During the tattooing experience, it was obvious that I was very nervous from all of the ‘horror stories’ of tattooing.  My tattoo artist at Overlord and my close friend kept me calm through keeping me engaged in a conversation, leading me to encounter a minimal amount of pain.  After an hour and a half of conversation and tattooing, my tattoo was complete and I had a huge grin on my face!. My experience at Overlord Tattoo allowed for me to remain comfortable and have one of my closest friends near me for the entire experience.  It is truly a great moment that I will never forget!

Student – Kyle Thomas

originally posted March 2010