Around 99.9 percent of all media is distorted and touched up to sell beauty, health and diet products. This presents unobtainable perfection.
This was explained on Feb. 7 by Faculty Counselor Elizabeth Scott and Retention Project Coordinator Aubrey Kreitzmann, at the second of a series of three Disordered Eating and Body Image workshops. The third workshop will take place on Feb. 8 at noon in the Multipurpose Room of the College Center building.
The workshop started with a clicker test that included the students who were in the room and other questions were asked throughout the discussion.
One question posed had a conclusive result: “Have you ever been made fun of or criticized because of your body shape/size or another physical feature?” The answer was a unanimous yes. Of these students, 69 percent agreed that this had a harmful effect on their self-image and 59 percent said it continues to affect them negatively.
According to Doctor Nicole Hawkins, 25 percent of self-esteem is formed by body image. With the media bombarding people with the so-called perfect size or shape, many believe they are inferior and this often leads towards eating disorders, anxiety, substance abuse, relationship problems, suicide and other conditions.
“A lot of people limit themselves because of low self-esteem,” Scott said. “But research shows that most people rate themselves much lower than the rest of the room would rate them.”
In fact, the ideal size found in media may not be healthy. Sometimes, people who look slim or physically fit on the outside are falling apart on the inside from unhealthy habits.
Students suggested that being happy with one’s body, having no serious health problems and being consistent with diet and lifestyle are all definitions of a healthy body. Kreitzmann also stressed the importance of being satisfied with who you are.
“If you feel good, that is what you want to always achieve,” she said.
Students were also asked to list experiences that might encourage someone to have a low self-image. Bullying, abuse, parents, not fitting in, high expectations, work, financial problems, relationship difficulties, stress, traumatic events and even Barbie dolls were some of the responses.
Another suggested possible reason to develop low self-esteem was tests.
“I wish to stress to my students that these are scores on the test, not on you as a person,” said Joseph Cates-Carney, a biology instructor at the Puyallup campus.
Students can avoid poor body image by avoiding comparing themselves to others, especially to those in the media, and through setting realistic and healthy expectations of themselves.
Additional information can be found at www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/.
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