(JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)
Boobs & Bras looks to celebrate women and encourage body acceptance. (JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)

Stony Brook University staff members and student leaders addressed the importance of positive body image, female empowerment and breast health at an event called “Boobs & Bras” Saturday evening at the Student Activities Center.

Jenn Islam, a sophomore sociology major and a resident assistant at Toscanini College, developed the idea for “Boobs & Bras” while shopping for clothes this past summer. She said the experience made her think about acceptance of body shape and breast size.

“We all want what we can’t have,” she said. “So we should appreciate what we do have. Since other people appreciate it, why shouldn’t we ourselves?”

Islam hosted the event with Jamie Leonard, a junior biology major who is also an RA at Toscanini College, and Mallory Rothstein, the executive vice president of Undergraduate Student Government and a junior majoring in business management and psychology.

“I think that it’s important that people take care of their bodies and feel comfortable with their bodies,” Leonard said.

At the event, Linda Bily, the patient advocacy and community outreach director at the Stony Brook Cancer Center, tested the audience’s knowledge of breast cancer with facts and statistics. She has also worked with Leonard in advising Camp Kesem, an SBU student-run summer camp for children with parents who have or had cancer.

“Teaching about cancer isn’t always doom and gloom,” said Bily, who is a cancer survivor herself. “We want it to be fun.”

Cathy Rico, a junior Spanish major and an RA from Sanger College, then gave a presentation on body positivity. Rico has organized other programs on body positivity, including a No-Shave November program about women’s body hair.

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“Get to know your body, and fall in love with your body,” Rico said. “Your body is the one entity that is completely yours in this world.”

A slideshow of body-positive messages from SBU students was projected throughout the event. The hosts also presented a video of interviews in which SBU students answered questions such as “why do you love your body?” and “what is beauty?”

As graduate student Meghan Paquette put it, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

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