Re-Connected to Beauty

By Kelli Swensen, Dietetics Student, Sargent College

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-written this blog post trying to make it perfect. I went to the absolutely amazing Lovin’ Your Body Panel Wednesday February 23 in the Howard Thurman Center, and was completely blown away.


Walking back my whole body felt lighter. All the small dramas in my life that had been tugging at me were magically massaged away by the words of the panel and the atmosphere of the audience. I was overflowing with a deep happiness that brought me peace and confidence. On my walk back to Kenmore I’m sure the people near me probably thought I was a bit loony, smiling for no reason, but that’s only because they weren’t at the event – they didn’t have the quotes from the night circling in their heads – they weren’t connected to their beauty like I was.

The word of the night, at least for me, was “connection”. When asked about what advice she finds herself giving to people struggling with eating disorders or body image in general, panelist Whitney Post stressed the importance of the human connection. I didn’t realize the magnitude of this one basic word until a student in the audience stood up, beautifully and passionately expressing her desire to have a body image support group on campus. Looking around while she was talking, almost everyone was smiling or nodding at the idea of a safe place for students to gather together and learn to love and accept their bodies.


The Lovin’ Your Body panel went beyond my expectations. Dr. Kimberly Dennis’s account of her struggle with an eating disorder was not only moving, but also surprisingly relatable. Rather than striking a nerve, many of Dr. Kim’s quotes sunk deep, helping to get rid of those negative thoughts that get in the way of fully enjoying each moment. I brought a small notebook with me, thinking I’d be writing down notes like a newspaper reporter. Instead, by the end of the night I had something much more similar to a quote book than a report. Because many of the speakers’ words touched me so profoundly, I want to share them with you.

“What I was doing was not loving my body; it was violence on my body” – Dr Kim

“My body wasn’t the problem. The problem was the deep feelings being held inside my body” – Dr. Kim

“What you look like is none of your business” – Dr. Kim

“Our eyes are really broken” – Dr. Kim on the US’s body perception

“The interpretations we make [about people’s bodies] are abnormal, extreme, and hateful” – Dr Kim

“It is so freeing to actually go to a RD [registered dietitian]” – Whitney Post

“This is not abnormal, it’s normal. When we feel out of control it’s normal to take extreme measures. But if it’s not caring for yourself, then it’s not working” – Stacey Zawacki

“You’re as sick as your secrets” – Dr. Kim on not getting help for an eating disorder

“Know that recovery can be a beautiful thing” – Whitney Post

“You have to figure out what you think is beautiful and be that beautiful for yourself” – Whitney Post

So, some quick cliff notes in case you weren’t able to make the event:

  • It may be cliché, but everyone has beauty and worth that goes beyond the external.
  • Focus on people’s talents and abilities rather than just their looks.
  • If someone you know has an eating disorder, don’t stay quiet. Let them know you care and are worried. Yes, they may push you away, but eventually if enough people mention it, something will click and they will seek help.
  • Everyone has body image problems from time to time. It’s completely normal, but you can’t let it consume you. Be around people who love you and believe them when they say you are worth loving.
  • Most importantly: Connect. Connect to your friends, you family, even strangers, but don’t forget to also connect with yourself.


What makes you feel most beautiful? If you attended the panel let us know your thoughts!


Alli Mars posted on March 2, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Love the post Kelli! So glad I was there with you. Panel was many inspirational words.
I think an important thing to keep in mind is making sure that you think you’re beautiful, before caring if anyone else thinks so. We get caught up in dressing ourselves up for other people and forget to stop and consider whether or not WE like how we look.

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