Being yourself is easier said than done. Achieving a bold mental and physical peace can feel like a lot to take on when you're also juggling school, work, roommates, and everything in-between.

Mac Alliance for Body Peace is a club focused around helping students find and achieve physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellness. Founded earlier this year, the club is pleased to open up to the McMaster community for the first time this September.

"I came up with the idea in March of last year," explains Katarina Polletto, President of Mac ABP and a second-year Health Sciences student. Polletto, whose two close friends struggled with eating disorders, knew that she needed to do something to help both men and women dealing with similar issues.

"Every guy or girl may look in the mirror and see one thing, or many things, that they do not like, and it can really be something that bothers and gets to you," she adds.

The club is founded on a mandate defined by "The 4 E's": Encourage, educate, empower and enhance. The first two E's involve encouraging people to make peace, and educating the public on what is a healthy approach to improved body image and wellness.

"We want to empower people to say 'I am who I am, and I'm going to do what I want', even if it is something weird or uniquely different, you can still feel comfortable and feel like you," adds Polletto when defining the third E.

The fourth E involves enhancing the McMaster community to be more aware and accepting. To make this happen and bring body image issues into the public eye, Mac ABP has planned a series of events for the upcoming year that will be open not only to their members, but also to anyone interested in learning more and getting involved.

The club's first public event will be "Yoga for Every Body" and will be taking place on Oct. 2 on the BSB field.

"Yoga does a lot for your body, not just physically but also mentally… it really helps you relax and think of absolutely nothing," she says laughing. "We want people to know that regardless of flexibility you can come out and do something- I can't touch my toes! It's one of my goals for this year".

The event will run from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. with a professional Moksha yoga instructor and admission is by donation. 50 percent of the proceeds raised that day will be going towards Danielle's Place, the only eating disorder support and resource centre in the Hamilton area.

In addition, Mac ABP will be hosting coffeehouses; monthly hikes through Cootes Paradise, stress workshops, and an on-campus colour run in the spring.

One of their on-going projects will be an oath-signing campaign. Over the course of the year, the club will be going around campus and having students sign a giant mural with their oath for body peace. The oath, available on the club's webpage, outlines a series of beliefs and commitments that will help participants understand what a healthy body image means, and assist students in making a commitment to find wellness and positive self-esteem. Students can sign the mural with a donation of their choice, with all of the proceeds also going to Danielle's Place.

The final line of the oath reads, "I am brilliant. I am brave. I am breathtaking. I am BOLD". The word "bold" was selected for its gender-inclusive properties, and also serves as an acronym that defines the club's beliefs.

"BO stands for body, L stands for love, and D stands for diversity," explains Polletto. "Because that's what you are, you are a bold and unique person. That is a fact that should not be celebrated just by you, but by everybody. We want everybody to be bold".


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