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Body Talk Peer Health Advocates

We strive to empower students to examine societal norms, cultural impositions, and personal relationships with their bodies and create a campus environment more accepting of these conversations by providing safe spaces to discuss issues related to body image and hosting educational workshops.

Viky Filippou

Body Talk Student Coordinator

they/them/theirs | Fourth Year | Major(s): Psychology & Comparative Human Development

"I joined Body Talk because I feel like diet culture is such a normalised and ingrained way of thinking not just in society, but especially among high school and college-age people, and can be much more pervasive than people realise. I believe wholeheartedly that being vocal about diet culture, educating others about the industry and the cultural fixation around it, and talking candidly as a community about the ways in which we and the people around us can liberate ourselves from these toxic ideals is the way in which we can start creating individual change that hopefully ripples into each of our respective communities. The empathetic and evidence-based approach used in our programming and the way that we are able to dictate our content according to what students want to see and learn more about is a huge part of the reason that I’m proud to be a PHA and look forward to helping educate and uplift others."

Melissa Bueno

she/her/hers | Second Year | Major(s): Biochemistry & Chemistry

"I've had my fair share of exposure to the toxic unreachable standards that the media and society set. Rather than add to the toxic community, I want to help counter that and be active in conversations about body image, healthy lifestyles, and self love. Especially because self- confidence is key to having and keeping a healthy lifestyle including mental health. Thus, as someone who is still working towards accepting and loving my own body, I hope to support others, and continue educating myself, to build healthy relationships with their own bodies."

Daniella Conner

Daniella Conner

she/her/hers | Third Year | Major(s): Biology & Comparative Human Development

"Although the representation of different bodies is increasing in the media, I recognize that there is still work to be done towards eliminating the confinement of beauty to a single, physical appearance. I firmly believe that, in order to bring about change as a society, it is important to begin with the individual. Self-acceptance and self-love do not happen overnight or (often) alone. I joined the PHA program to contribute to creating a safe and supportive atmosphere on campus where everyone can be free to share their struggles, knowing that they will be received with open ears and without judgment. In a generation that has ingrained self-deprecation into our culture, I want to work towards the normalization of self-love by spreading awareness and solidifying an emotional and resource support network."

Aashana Daru

she/they | Second Year | Major(s): Biological Sciences

"Bodies are the only thing we have in common; not the way our bodies look or feel, but the fact that we have all bodies. Instead of embracing our differences, diet culture and a largely fatphobic society have constantly kept us uncomfortable with our bodies. Through BodyTalk, I hope to instigate conversations about this with my peers and inspire a more comfortable experience of self––for myself, and for all of us!"

Nandini Kejariwal

she/her/hers | Fourth Year |  Major(s): Psychology

"I have always found that my body means many different things to me, and that my relationship with it, and associated motifs (food, photographs, clothes, medical consultations) is anything but simple. I also realise that I do not face this confusion alone, but feel lonely in it because of the lack of discourse surrounding such topics. BodyTalk seemed like an inclusive and productive space to have conversations that might sometimes be uncomfortable, but would ultimately help unravel some of the intricacies that burden so many of us. Here, I have found the vocabulary and security to talk about diet culture and its underlying prejudices, the role of mass and social media in affecting body image, the nuances of representation of different bodies and much more. I hope that by participating in the Body Talk, I can bring these conversations to others and perhaps help them in introspecting and maybe even finding peace in their experiences with their bodies."

Arnaaz Khwaja

she/her/hers | Fourth Year | Major(s): Anthropology

"I joined Body Talk because I think, especially in college, body image issues are a challenge a large percentage of the population struggles with, but rarely are discussed because of the unhealthy normalization (at least in my experience) of these problems. I want to do my part to create a healthy space for open dialogue, and joining the Body Talk cohort is definitely a great way to start. I’m looking forward to taking part in discussions centered around both personal experiences and educational resources!"

Livia Miller

they/them/theirs | Fourth Year | Major(s): Anthropology & Visual Art

"I love talking about bodies and wellness, because they shape so much of our experiences moving through the world, and I want to help shape community spaces where these conversations can happen."

Julia Richardson

she/her/hers | Fourth Year | Major(s): History & Economics

"I joined Body Talk because detrimental notions of wellness and beauty infiltrate our daily lives through the media, negative self-talk, and a culture of self-deprecation -- these undermine personal strength and discourage a positive self-relationship, which is the most important relationship to cultivate. As part of Body Talk, I hope to promote self-love at UChicago by encouraging inclusive discussions about health and advocating for the importance of self-acceptance. I'm incredibly excited to foster positivity and a supportive campus climate as a Peer Health Advocate!"

Nidhi Talasani

she/her/hers | Third Year | Major(s): Biological Sciences

"With the growing presence of social media and its effect on societal expectations, it’s becoming increasingly important for us to learn to be comfortable in our own skin. Through Body Talk, I want to help reframe the conversation surrounding body image and promote body positivity. By becoming a PHA I hope to learn from discussions I have with my peers and grow as an individual."

Evan Williams

he/him/his | Fourth Year | Major(s): History & English

"Before I found Body Talk, I felt left out of conversations around body image, food, exercise, and lived experiences with each. As a peer health advocate, I hope to create a space for those who might not otherwise be exposed to, or feel included in spaces working to normalize talking about that most common condition of living with a body."

Isabella Xu

Isabella Xu

she/her/hers | Fourth Year | Major(s): Biological Sciences

"I joined Body Talk because there is so much stigma and harmful stereotypes around eating disorders, body image issues. These messages are so embedded in the media and our everyday lives that it’s hard to recognize and dismantle. I think it’s incredibly important to create an inclusive space for people of any identities and backgrounds to feel comfortable in their own skins. As someone who is working towards accepting and loving my own body, I hope to use my platform as a peer health advocate to educate and support others to develop healthy relationships with their own bodies."

Self-Care UnMasked: 

In November 2020, Body Talk hosted a workshop exposing myths around self-care. "Self-care" is a term that is thrown around all the time, but what does it really mean? From its roots in the Black Panther Party to its commercialization by beauty brands today, self-care is truly a multilayered concept. Now more than ever, it is important to recognize these intricacies and make time to practice self-care.

Blank Slate: BodyTalk x Outside the Lines Virtual Figure Drawing Session:

This Valentine’s Day, join Outside the Lines and BodyTalk to make some works of (he)art! After a short discussion on the power of art and representation in the movement/experience of body positivity, we will be joined by a live model on Zoom for a session of figure drawing.

Navigating Nutrition: Examining Health at Every Size® as a Social Justice Framework:

The BodyTalk PHAs are so excited to host a conversation with Christyna Johnson, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who works to promote a nutrition philosophy rooted in Health at Every Size. Ms. Johnson (@EncouragingDietician on Instagram) uses social media as a resource to educate and promote a wide range of issues, such as food morality, intuitive eating, and the intersection of nutrition and social justice. Join us over zoom to learn more about intuitive eating and Health at Every Size® as ways to form a sustainable personal relationship with your body!

Clean Foods, Junk Foods, and Super Foods: Discussing and Dismantling Notions of Food Morality

Body Talk hosted a session aimed at dismantling and discussing notions of food morality and its deep ties to diet culture, fatphobia, and weight stigmatization. While many of us have grown used to labeling food as ‘junk’ or ‘healthy’, ‘guilt-free’ or an ‘indulgence’, ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ the BodyTalk PHAs want to remind you that food is just food! It can fuel us, comfort us, and bring us joy – but it should not have an inherent morality.

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