By: Tal Lee ’15, Public Health and Structural Inequalities Major, University Health Center HEALTH Works Peer Educator
Body image is the way you see yourself, how you feel about you body, and how you feel in your body.
Research shows that body image concerns are extremely prevalent among both men and women on college campuses.
Body image is socially constructed. A person is not born with set perceptions of an ideal physical appearance. Body image affects not only how we treat ourselves physically, but also emotionally.
Loving your body and yourself is crucial to your happiness and overall wellbeing.
We receive so many messages on a daily basis that tell us we’re not good enough, pretty enough, strong enough, thin enough, ______ enough, that sometimes it can be difficult to accept and love yourself as you are.
The journey to body acceptance and self-love starts with small steps. Here are some tips for starting that journey.
5 ways to love the skin you’re in
- Go “fat-talk free.” Do your friends ever ask you, “Do I look fat in this?” This is an example of fat talk. A study conducted by Northwestern University found 93% of college women admit to participating in fat talk. Eliminating fat-talk is a great way to avoid unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as associating with negative feelings or adopting irregular eating habits. Check out Operation Beautiful for more tips about avoiding fat talk.
- Make a list of things you like about yourself. Keep a growing list of everything you like about yourself and read it when you need a boost of positivity. Make sure there are plenty of things on your list that are not related to physical appearance.
- Be a critical viewer of the media. Images in the media of both males and females present an unattainable and unrealistic image of the “ideal” body image. Women are impossibly thin and men have huge muscles. It is important to recognize that these images are frequently retouched to unnatural extremes.
- Take care of you body’s needs. Staying active through yoga or other types of exercise is a great way to get in touch with your body and appreciate what your body can do for you. Fueling your body with nutritious foods will help you feel good and stay physically active. Additionally, maintaining your mental health is key to positive body image.
- Wear comfy clothes that you like. Clothes are a wonderful way to express yourself. Wear clothes that are comfortable for you and that make your body feel good.
Want to learn more about body image? February is LOVE YOUR BODY Month at UMD. The month promotes positive body image and healthy living through events held around campus throughout the month. View the calendar of events and the student-run Facebook page.