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UVA Kicks Off "Celebrate Every Body Week" - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA Kicks Off "Celebrate Every Body Week"

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Jeans exchange at UVA Jeans exchange at UVA
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (WVIR) -

Positive and healthy body image is the focus of a week-long campaign at the University of Virginia. Students kicked off their annual "Celebrate Every Body Week" with a jeans exchange Monday.

The UVA Women's Center says people often use a pair of jeans that are too tight as a measuring stick for their ideal size. Student volunteers for the Body Positive Initiative are encouraging their peers to trade those for a good cause. 

Anna Leonard, a third-year student at UVA, is exchanging her old pair of jeans for a free "Body Positive" T-shirt.

“I think this is a great way for students to have someone to be like 'It's OK to let go of that pair of jeans that you've had for five years or six years because your body is changing,” said Leonard. 

As a peer health educator at UVA, Leonard says it's important to stress that a healthy body image comes in all shapes and sizes.

“One of our acronyms is PIE - positive, inclusive and empowering - so it really works well with our message that we are very aware of people's backgrounds and everyone comes from somewhere different,” said Leonard.

It's a message the UVA Women's Center tries to promote throughout the year.

“We focus on people eating nutritious foods and exercising in appropriate amounts and then that we look the way we look,” said Amy Chestnutt of the UVA Women's Center.

UVA athlete Paige Terry also stood at the jeans exchange table Monday to help spread awareness about the initiative.

“We are who we are, and we eat what we eat, and we should be happy with that,” said Terry.

All jeans collected this week will be donated directly to Charlottesville’s Shelter for Help in Emergency.

Leonard says the gift also serves as an important personal reminder.

“I can let go of these jeans because the size of them does not define who I am as a person,” said Leonard.

Last year, volunteers gave the shelter more than 150 pairs of jeans. There will be different events, including a free Zumba class.

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