On a cool, sunny Friday after­noon out­side the Curry Stu­dent Center, third-​​year psy­chology major Michelle Marini snatched up a yellow wiffle ball bat with a clear pur­pose in mind.

“Let’s bash the fat talk!” Marini screamed, and then urged stu­dents to take a swing at a dan­gling pink piñata.

Sev­eral eager stu­dents stepped up to the plate until sopho­more Karan Assu­dani burst open the piñata, which revealed dozens of tiny pieces of paper that flut­tered to the ground.

They con­tained pos­i­tive mes­sages about body image that Marini’s stu­dent group, Northeastern’s Eating and Weight Con­cerns Project (NEWCOPE), had col­lected all week as part of an effort to take a more pos­i­tive approach toward dis­cussing the issue.

The event was one of sev­eral activ­i­ties NEWCOPE hosted on campus in con­junc­tion with Fat Talk Free Week, a nation­wide cam­paign cre­ated by the sorority Delta Delta Delta. North­eastern does not have a Delta Delta Delta stu­dent chapter, but the cam­paign strongly aligns with NEWCOPE’s goals, said orga­ni­za­tion pres­i­dent Emily Haigney.

“We do a lot of out­reach, and this is one way we can get the word out to stu­dents,” Haigney said.

NEWCOPE pro­vides stu­dents with edu­ca­tion, aware­ness and sup­port on topics including prob­lem­atic eating and exer­cise behav­iors, eating dis­or­ders, self-​​esteem, body image and nutri­tion. The orga­ni­za­tion offers a drop-​​in center at 314 Ell Hall, refer­rals, a hot­line, social net­working web sites and other resources for stu­dents who are looking to help not only them­selves but also family and friends. The group also pro­vides anony­mous and con­fi­den­tial peer coun­seling.

NEWCOPE was cre­ated in 1995 as an out­growth of a project in Pro­fessor Emily Fox-​​Kales’ “Eating Dis­or­ders and Human Feeding Behavior” course at North­eastern. Fox-​​Kales, the group’s fac­ulty advisor, is a clin­ical psy­chol­o­gist who spe­cial­izes in the treat­ment of eating dis­or­ders and body image dis­tur­bances.

Her book, Body Shots, describes how movies and tele­vi­sion create a phys­ical ideal that viewers feel they must live up to.

“I think college-​​aged stu­dents, both male and female, are very vul­ner­able to not just their own body image strug­gles but also the media envi­ron­ment in which they grow up,” she said. 

Fox-​​Kales will dis­cuss Body Shots at the Uni­ver­sity Libraries’ Meet the Author series on Nov. 16 at noon.