Stepping Up hosts creative media contest to depict healthy relationships
By Riley Toma, Contributor
To be blunt, since when do we see realistic, healthy relationships portrayed in the media?
We are constantly bombarded with messages of what relationships should look like through popular song lyrics, dynamics between characters in television shows and movies, and facades of “perfect relationships” painted across social media.
I would like to share my recent experience with this. I have been rewatching the show Scrubs. It took my umpteenth watch-through —I admittedly find it hilarious — to take notice of how the characters treated each other in their relationships.
Carla never tells Turk why she is mad at him, forcing him to “figure out” what he did wrong. What did that teach my younger self about handling conflict in a relationship?
Todd sexually harasses women in each episode and most of the time, gets away with nothing more than a few eye rolls. Did that teach me that those behaviours are tolerable and necessary to make me feel desired in a relationship?
It seems impossible to develop a clear-cut idea of what a healthy, loving, supportive and respectful relationship looks like having grown up watching characters disrespect each other on screens.
Of course, a television show is just one example of how the media infiltrates us with messages of what relationships look like. But with the media being so dominant in our lives, how can we combat these narratives in an impactful way? How can we deconstruct years-worth of unhealthy messages and emphasize healthy behaviours for our own relationships?
We deserve to feel safe and respected with the ones we love. An MRU program gives students the opportunity to explore what healthy relationships should actually look like.
Stepping Up, a dating, domestic, and sexual violence prevention program at the university, wants to hear from students, and challenge these harmful narratives.
“What does a healthy relationship look, feel and/or sound like to you?”
This competition asks you to tap into your creativity and answer this question through an art piece.
Not an artist? You don’t need to be!
The contest is meant to inspire conversations and reflections around healthy relationships through creativity. All students, mediums, and skill levels are welcome. As long as your piece is meaningful to you, it will be honoured. Paintings, original songs, poems, photography, filmed choreography, filmed skits or any other type of creative media that can be submitted online are acceptable. Just add a description to your interpretation of your piece.
Think about how you could express the sense of safety, trust, support and respect that a healthy relationship possesses. You may draw inspiration from your own experience in a supportive relationship and depict how much you were cared for. You may even portray a scene of healthy conflict-resolution between partners who respect each other’s differences. Healthy relationships take limitless forms, as can your creative piece.
Also, there are prizes to be won! The first place submission will receive a $150 gift card, second
place will receive a $125 gift card, and third place will receive a $100 gift card.
How do you participate? Visit the Stepping Up website or contact the program director Michelle Chimenti at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign the model release form, which allows your piece to be showcased. Submissions need to be completed and sent to Chimenti by Mar. 1 and winners will be announced Mar. 5. Submissions will be showcased during prevention week from Mar. 8 to Mar.17.
For more information on the contest, Stepping Up, how to get involved on campus and resources for dating, domestic and sexual violence, visit Stepping Up online.