New CMHC group aims to shift conversation about bodies

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One intern, one clinician and one shared passion initiated the Counseling and Mental Health Center’s new group promoting body positivity and self-love. 

Duo Zac Carter and Gareth White, a social work intern and clinical social worker at the center developed the group “Big Bodies. Radical Love.” When Carter interviewed for his current position last semester. In his interview, he brought up his desire to use his work at the center to address body diversity. 

“I think adding bodies to the conversation more ... is something we would like to accomplish,” Carter said. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about how a first step could just be offering the group.”

White, a former activist for body positivity, said the group’s name was inspired by the “radical” notion of people talking about bodies without judgment.

Carter’s interview re-awoke her passion for promoting healthy body conversations, White said.

Carter said he hopes the group empowers students to look at their bodies without societal pressures. 

“I just want to pose the question of what it would be like to ask people how they feel about their bodies as opposed to going into relationships or conversations or interactions with an assumption,” Carter said. 

The structure of the group depends on the preferences of the students involved, White said. However, Carter and White said they imagine it will take the form of a process and support group.

Like all of the groups at the health center, “Big Bodies. Radical Love.” is free and open to all UT students. Katy Redd, assistant director for prevention and outreach with the center, said the variety of groups chosen are based on what students need and the skills of the clinicians. 

“I think we always are trying to be responsive to the needs of the campus,” Redd said.

Among these are drop-in discussion groups, personal exploration groups, integrated health groups and support groups like “Big Bodies. Radical Love.”

Although the group hasn’t begun meeting yet and is still in the early stages of development, Carter and White said it will most likely meet every Tuesday from 2 to 3:30 p.m.