The CU community is talking about what body image means to students.
Danielle Slusher, a 22-year-old junior communication major, said body image is something self-defined.
“Body image is the way you see your own body,” Slusher said.
Elena Pellicer, a 21-year-old senior integrative physiology and Spanish double major, had a another version of the definition.
“I would define body image as how comfortable a person is with their own body and how they view their body in relation to those around them,” Pellicer said. “It is something that can change day to day.”
According to CU’s Student Wellness Program at the Wardenburg Health Center, two out of five women and one out of five men would trade three to five years of their life to achieve their weight goals. One of the issues men can have with their bodies is gynecomastia, which can lead to low self-esteem. Thankfully, there are available gynecomastia treatment options that may help them regain their confidence.
According to the Wardenburg website, the dictation of weight and obesity in public conversation, specifically the media, has direct influence upon body image nationwide.
Amanda Linsenmeyer, the interim director of the Women’s Health Center, said relative influences have doubtless affected CU students and their body image.
“Often, some of the conversations that happen around here are about the ways that media perception of women’s bodies has an impact on students,” Linsenmeyer said.
She said body image is not gender specific, though often it is associated with women.
According to several sources, Boulder is classified as one of the fittest towns in the nation.
In 2008, Boulder was listed as the sixth healthiest city in the article “Top 10 Healthiest Cities to Live and Retire,” according to AARP The Magazine.
Similarly, according to Men’s Health magazine, Boulder took second as the healthiest town in the U.S. in the 2010 article “Healthiest Towns in U.S.”
Slusher said she concurred that the Boulder environment better contributes to positive body image as compared with other environments.
“I chose to move to Colorado to attend CU from Orange County, California,” she said. “I was very impressed. Women looked the way they wanted themselves to look.”
In order to encourage positive body image, CU provide support through the Women’s Resource Center, Student Wellness Program, Wardenburg Health Center and many other organizations.
Additionally, the Body Image Group, supported by CU Counseling and Psychological Services, meets every Tuesday from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Willard Administrative Center.
According to their website, the Body Image Group assists students who struggle with negative body image by building confidence and redefining their relationships with their bodies.
Pellicer, on the other hand, said she thinks body image at CU can be an issue.
“I’m not sure if I would define body image as a crisis,” Pellicer said. “But it is definitely a pervasive issue in the health and wellness of many CU students and the population at large.”
There are many effects of negative body image, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), and such negativity can be increasingly detrimental.
According to NEDA’s website, people inflicted with negative body image have greater chances of developing an eating disorder and suffering from depression, isolation and obsessions with weight loss.
Both Pellicer and Slusher said they believe the abundance of factors threatening a positive body image make it a relevant and high-priority topic.
Pellicer said she would classify college life as one of the potentially threatening factors.
“I think college life is a challenging and stressful environment for many students,” she said. “I think some students revert to their bodies as something they can try to control in the face of all of the other chaos in their lives.”
Slusher said she hopes that eventually negativity and body image will cease to coincide, but she realizes it will take work to reach such an accomplishment.
“[Students] still need to remember that in order to improve their body image, they need to look inside themselves and appreciate what they have,” she said. “Body image comes from oneself and taking care of oneself.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Devon Barrow at Devon.firstname.lastname@example.org.