students in lounge

Name: Julia Paraiso
Year: Third
Major: Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law

1.    Why did you join the Body Positive team?

I have had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing women at UVA, and several of those women just so happened to also be interns at the Women's Center. I loved hearing about their positive experiences and felt like I needed a community of women who were trying to make a difference on grounds and in the world, and I knew the Women's Center would be a great place to start. I joined the Body Positive team for many reasons, but perhaps the most important was that I recognized a distinct difference between my positive self-concept in high school and in college. I saw that I, along with my friends, were really struggling with radical self-love and self-acceptance as it related to our bodies because so much changed once we entered our first year. After doing some introspection, I found peace with and love for my own body, and I wanted to be able to put that to work through the BP team.

2.    What are some intersections of your identity and how does that relate to body positivity?

As an Asian woman who grew up in a predominantly white area, my journey with Body Positivity was heavily affected by my desire to look like the people around me, something that simply is not possible because my body is built differently and will end up looking differently compared to my white counterparts. It took me a while to recognize that my intersections can and should be a huge part of how I view myself — I am built differently because I am different, and I love myself for it.

3.    What projects and ideas are you excited about exploring with the team?

There are so many things I love about the BP team and about this work, but the thing I love most is that I am continuously learning new things. Body Positivity is not a straight path, and there is no final destination — we are constantly learning new ways to view ourselves and our bodies. For example, our team recently listened to Brené Brown's podcast in which she interviews Sonya Renee Taylor. In it, they not only discussed the mantra "my body is my ally" (which is already SO powerful), but they pushed the conversation further by explaining how we can fall into the trap of being performative allies of our own bodies. This really spoke to me as I had never thought of it before, and it made me self-reflect and ask myself if and when I had ever been a performative ally in regards to my own body. Learning new things like this makes this internship so engaging, and I'm excited to keep soaking up more knowledge.