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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Campus Health launches body image program for female students

Reflection, a body image program that first reached the UA through the Delta Delta Delta sorority, is now being instated as a program open to all female students by Campus Health Service.

The program’s goal is to promote body image awareness and prevent eating disorders among the campus population. At the time of its conception, Reflection was sorority-oriented, but is now inviting all women at the UA to take part in the course sessions.

The mission of the program is to create a mindset that will help women continue to build their own strength, said Gale Welter, a Campus Health nutritionist.

“It’s focused on positive body image and how to work with the external media pressure,” said Jenny Nirh, senior coordinator for fraternity and sorority programs.

Reflection also focuses on pursuing a healthy lifestyle, regardless of society’s conception of the ideal woman should look like.

“The program is trying to get women together to resist the thin ideal that society puts on us women, and to realize the thin ideal is not realistic or healthy,” said Kendal Shanks, a nutrition science junior and program coordinator.

Due to the perfection-oriented stereotypes perpetuated by the media, women begin to have body image concerns at a young age that are ingrained as they grow up, Shanks added.

In order to make people more aware of these insecurities, the program aims to reach the typical stereotypes and rework them to fit the healthy body image.

“We all can start to change the stereotypes of what body image should be, what we should look like and what we want to look up to,” said Justine Huggins, a psychology senior and public relations person for Delta Delta Delta. “We as a community, we can change that outlook on body image.”

The theoretical base that the program is designed around is cognitive dissents, Welter said. The sessions focus on confronting common perceptions of perfection, and whether or not society’s definition of being thin is the ideal definition. The program will also target the conflict of how to reconcile with what a women hears versus what she senses.

This cognitive-dissents-based program consists of a series of verbal and written behavioral exercises that critique the ultra-thin standard of a female beauty, Welter said. This dissent occurs when there is a discrepancy between one’s beliefs and one’s actions.

“This inconsistence creates a psychological distress which is typically reduced by changing one’s beliefs to be consistent with your actions,” she added.

Through several different activities, the program aims to prevent eating disorders before they happen, Shanks said, as well as eliminating the notion that women with big thighs can’t have positive body image.

“Being in the program, I still get those thoughts too,” she said. “But then I think about the program and all the stuff that I have learned and I am able to get past it.”

Each session is divided into two class periods. The first class meeting consists of icebreaker activities that are interactive and friendly so participants feel more at ease. In the second class, participants go over their homework and discuss whether it’s worth it to strive for society’s definition of the perfect body.

The program first began at Trinity University in 2001 and expanded through several other schools. The National Tri Delta team came to the UA and trained more than 30 sorority students and staff in order for the UA to launch its own program on campus for women.

“As a national organization, they really want to promote better body health, self-esteem and the importance of finding the beauty in what you have within yourself,” Huggins said.

The first session begins on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. in Health Promotion, on the third floor of Campus Health.

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