Love Your Body, It’s with You for Life

By: Anne Kirby, Staff Writer

“Love Your Body, It’s with You for Life”

We see it as we scroll through our Instagram feeds. We see it on the magazine covers as we check out at the grocery store. We even see it in the scrutinizing faces of our friends looking at their reflection in the mirror. The appearance ideal has consumed our society to an inescapable degree. We cannot fail to address it: dysmorphia and impossible beauty standards are everywhere. They direct negativity toward body types that do not meet a certain set of criteria. Body image issues affect  all of our lives, knocking on our door and tempting us to conform to their unrealistic standards. How long must this go on? How many girls must be driven to unhealthy eating and over-exercise because of an aversion to her perfectly beautiful body? The Body Project is tackling these questions, and we as a Furman community should be listening.

These are the questions that Dr. Eric Stice and Dr. Carolyn Becker were asking in 2012 when they created The Body Project Collaborative. Body dissatisfaction is an increasingly prevalent issues on college campuses, and for a long time, little research was conclusive on how to prevent this dissatisfaction and the unhealthy habits that stem from it. But what if there was an intervention program that allowed girls to come together to talk about the uncomfortable? To confront the unrealistic ideal? To force themselves out of the habitual, toxic body checking, eating and exercising for the purpose of “looking better?” This is precisely what The Body Project has done.

In 2014, the Furman psychology department brought The Body Project to our campus. Since then, many female students have participated in the evidence-based program guided by trained Peer Leaders. Participants are asked to attend two, two-hour sessions, approximately one week apart. During the sessions, group discussions pick apart the individual components of the “appearance ideal,” and why exactly we feel inclined to satisfy this image rather than treat our bodies with the love and care that they deserve. The group addresses the toxicity of “fat talk,” how to respond to notions of working out for a “spring break bod” or skipping a meal in order to cut down a few pounds. Participants practice breaking habits of “mirror checking,” body shaming to self and others and any other behaviors which reinforce the idea that we have to look a certain way in order to be beautiful. True self love, as the Body Project teaches you, does not require you to meet any conditions, but it meets you wherever you are. Beauty is not in an appearance. All bodies are beautiful and perfectly unique, and the Body Project strives to challenge the society which demands the opposite.

Initiatives like the Body Project are important first steps towards breaking apart the culture that drives many girls into body dissatisfaction and ultimately, eating disorders. As a college campus, we have an obligation to continue this conversation. Every girl deserves to feel confident in her skin and not obligated to work towards some unrealistic set of standards. The conversation does not stop here — it has only just begun. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in The Body Project, you can register at https://furmanbodyproject.youcanbook.me/.

Initiatives like the Body Project are important first steps towards breaking apart the culture that drives many girls into body dissatisfaction and ultimately, eating disorders. As a college campus, we have an obligation to continue this conversation. Every girl deserves to feel confident in her skin and not obligated to work towards some unrealistic set of standards. The conversation does not stop here — it has only just begun. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in The Body Project, you can register at https://furmanbodyproject.youcanbook.me/.

 

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