Anthony Flores scribbled on white construction paper covering a Peabody Hall gender-neutral bathroom with a black sharpie Monday afternoon.
“You only have 1 body, love it,” they wrote. They finished it off with a heart around the phrase.
Flores participated in Mirrorless Monday, the first day of Celebrate EveryBODY, a series of events in honor of National Eating Disorder Association’s awareness week. To encourage students to write positive messages about their bodies, bathroom mirrors on campus buildings were covered in papers, with pens left beside them. The locations included the Reitz Union, Peabody Hall, the Student Health and Wellness Center and Library West.
UF’s GatorWell Health Promotion Services is holding the three-event series, which will promote positive self-image, said Gatorwell spokesperson Joel Axon.
“We’re all about creating a culture for health, wellness and student success,” he said.
Flores, a UF visual art studies sophomore who uses the they singular pronoun, said they has struggled with anorexia and body dysmorphia for eight years.
During Flores’ junior year of high school, the now 20-year-old’s weight hit 140 pounds at 6 feet 5 inches – about 20 pounds lighter than advised for those of the same height.
That’s when Flores decided to start making changes. Flores said they started going to counseling and implementing a nutrient-heavy vegan diet.
“A body is something to carry your soul, but it doesn’t define who you are,” Flores said.
Flores was heartened to see others spreading body positivity even if others don’t have a perfect physique, Flores said.
One way Flores remembers their own self-worth is by writing and performing poems about these struggles, as a reminder of how far they’ve come.
“I had an image in my head of what I wanted to be and would stop at no end to get there, when in reality it wasn’t healthy or even sustainable,” Flores said. “I still struggle every day, but I’ve learned balance and that it gets better.”
Marissa Jadotte wrote “Beauty is something that should never be taken away from you” with a black sharpie in the women’s bathroom on the second-floor of Library West.
The UF health science sophomore said she grew up in a predominantly white community in Palm City, Florida, and struggled with her self-image as one of the few women of color.
As a child, Jadotte said she didn’t like standing out due to her skin color, and it made her feel less worthy than her peers.
“To me, I was ugly and hated that I looked different than everyone else,” the 20-year-old said.
Jadotte said arriving to Gainesville and joining UF’s Multicultural Association of Pre-Health Students allowed her to experience a more diverse community, which helped her realize beauty comes in different shapes, sizes and skin color, she said.
“It really was empowering,” she said. “It was life changing.”
Here are the other two events for the week:
- Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: EveryBODY Can Move, in which UF RecSports will offer yoga from on the Plaza of the Americas.
- Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: BeYoutiful Health and Wellness Fair, which will feature educational activities about body acceptance and eating disorders on the Plaza of the Americas.
Correction: A pervious version of this story misstated what Marissa Jadotte wrote on the mirror. It has been updated to reflect that she wrote "Beauty is something that should never be taken away from you."