Inspired by the critically-aclaimed “Vagina Monologues,” a dozen University students appeared on the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre stage on Tuesday night to share their experiences grappling with body image.

Sponsored by the University Health Service, the “Body Monologues” featured 12 spoken-word performances by University students.

Though performers often stopped during their monologues for comical asides to the audience, the performance also addressed more serious issues such as low self-esteem, eating disorders, suicide and sexual identity.

Public Health student Tahiya Alam performed a monologue titled “Chai Tea or Latte?” which discussed how her struggles with gaining acceptance in both American culture and her native Bengali culture often made her feel like an outsider.

“My skin will always stand out in this crowd,” Alam said. “Growing up in the Midwest, I was landlocked in a sea of white, forever an outsider.”

In the monologue “Mischief Managed,” Engineering senior Jake Heller examined how his struggle to accept his weight led him to contemplate suicide.

“I truly believed that being dead was better than being fat,” Heller said during his performance.

UHS health educator Kellie Carbone, a Body-Peace Corps adviser and the event’s director, said the program focused on struggles with body and appearance because it is a subject that students are often unable to talk about freely.

“Over the years, I started to realize there was real value in people telling stories and I saw there really wasn’t a platform for students to do that,” she said. “Our goal was to get people talking and listening to stories about struggles with body appearance in a supportive way.”

“Most of the time people suffer in silence about these things and then they become secrets,” she added. “But giving a people a space to open up about that inspires people to take a brave step and do it in their own words too.”

At the event, Social Work student Hannah Miller spoke about her 10-year battle with anorexia. She said she hoped the event inspired the University community to break the silence regarding body disorders.

“I hope that it just spoke to at least one person,” Miller said in an interview after her performance. “There tends to be a lot of shame and stigma associated with eating disorders. I hope the event encouraged someone to get out there and break that silence.”

Carbone and the Body-Peace Corps are currently planning events for Eating Disorders Awareness Week at the end of the month.

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