Talk supports healthy living
Discussion works to boost positive body image
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 00:09
Negative body image, although seemingly discreet, is a pervasive dilemma affecting students across campus addressed weekly in the Living Well Office.
The first eating disorder and body image discussion of the year was held Monday, Sept. 10. The purpose of the discussion is to air thoughts and concerns of UVM students regarding personal body image and its value in society.
Ten students were present to voice their views in a safe and supportive environment facilitated by health educator Annie Cressey, whose work focuses on mental health.
Cressey advises Active Minds at UVM, and is the chair of the Suicide Awareness Committee in the Center for Health and Wellbeing and a member of the Eating Disorder Outreach and Education team.
Last year the discussion provided an environment for students to voice their opinions and concerns
“It’s about changing the conversation on mental health,” Cressey said. “One person might be thinking about something, and five or six more people are thinking the same thing.”
At the first body image discussion this year, students discussed various aspects of personal body image, including social pressure to be a given size, the influence the media holds in reinforcing these ideals and struggles with self-confidence in attending college.
“I know this group for me has been great with an open discussion that connects people with similar experiences,” sophomore Paige Radney said. “To know that you are not alone is the best part about this group.”
According to www.eatingforlife.org, body image concerns are extremely prevalent on college campuses.
The website stated that at least 75 percent of college students are dissatisfied with their weight.
“Across all genders there are unrealistic pressures to look and be a certain way, and there are many ways that we go about trying to achieve this,” Cressey said. “UVM has a vibrant student body that is engaged in developing healthy lifestyles, but we also have lot of students, men and women, who are struggling with larger issues.”
According to Cressey, some of these issues have to do with coping, control, transition and perfectionism, all of which can lead to eating disorders and distorted body image.
“I look forward to it all day. I wish it was more often,” junior Julie Schoellkopf said. “You leave with tips for yourself, like what can I do to make myself feel better? Not just in terms of body image, but also the stress of being a college student.”
Such discussions are a positive place to gain self-awareness and perspective while in a community based on support and acceptance.
“My personal goal for this work is to provide education and connection so that we don’t feel alone in the struggle to be who we want to be, not what others deem worthy,” Cressey said.
The Living Well Office not only helps students to contemplate and analyze body image, but addresses multiple other needs for young adults as well.
“We work to understand the diverse and complex health issues that students are facing (i.e. alcohol and other drugs, sexual health, body image and eating disorders, mental health, nutrition etc.) and focus our efforts on providing the tools and education students need to make healthy choices,” the Living Well website stated.
Eating Disorder and Body Image: Discussion and Connect occurs every Monday at 5 p.m. in the Living Well Office on the first floor of the Davis Center.