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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Weighing perks of weight loss

    As Arizona heats back up to those warm spring days we all know and love, I am slowly being bombarded with images of the perfect beach body. More and more people are heading to the Student Recreation Center to reach this ideal figure. I’m totally for looking better, and becoming healthier while doing so, but the idea of losing weight just for its own sake is an unappealing one.

    Our culture of diets and weight loss seems to create the belief that as long as you’re skinny, you’re healthy. I see this delusion everywhere. As Kate Moss said, “Nothing tastes better than skinny feels.”

    Thinness is not necessarily a sign of health.

    What is though? The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This means everything from sexual health and family planning, to the social environment you engage in on a daily basis.

    I also define health as feeling good. It means feeling mentally and physically comfortable at whatever weight I am. It means watching what foods I eat and my level of exercise every week, and modifying them until I feel good and energetic.

    Body image is a hot topic.

    Recently Sports Illustrated announced that its swimsuit issue will feature Barbie on the cover . This portrays a specific image about what women are supposed to look like, and women — especially teenagers and college students — find themselves trying to decide if that’s how they should look.

    Additionally, it’s reported that between 10 to 20 percent of college-age females, as well as 4 to 10 percent of college-age males, are affected by an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia. Eating disorders are often linked to other psychiatric disorders such as depression.

    Both anorexia and bulimia occur because of the idea that skinny is healthy. In fact, health depends on your body’s composition of muscle and fat, as well as how tall you are.

    Is it possible, if we create a more supportive environment for ourselves, we could potentially help to slowly change our mindset to one of a better and more fair image of ourselves?

    A few different initiatives have been taken to hopefully create that environment here on our own campus. According to its website, the mission of UA Body Smart is “to enhance self-worth, resiliency and empower body image among UA students of all genders.”

    The Love Your Body Program offers peer-led discussions to explore where body image issues originate. As this program is still fairly new, only time can tell if it will make a difference on our campus. It also has events on the UA Mall where students can write the reasons that they are excellent the way they are.

    Another, UA Hope Notes, was created to get students to encourage each other to believe that they are worthy of happiness in their own skin. The idea is that you leave sticky notes around campus with encouraging messages for other students to find. If you find one, you’re encouraged to share it using social media, especially Instagram.

    Steps such as these can create a positive difference in our social environments here on campus. They are working to change the dialogue and make it more open and comfortable for students to get help, or learn how to help their peers.

    The goal is that as these programs grow and evolve they can reach more people in the UA community. This can be done by encouraging a friend or becoming a mentor. We need to spread the message that it is more important to be healthy than it is to be skinny.

    — Maura Higgs is a neuroscience and cognitive sciences sophomore. Follow her @maurahiggs

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