Women can change the way they view themselves and others by participating in the project
Whether you are a size zero or a size 24, most women have experienced body image issues. But there is a project that is aiming to change that.
“We have been in situations where you speak negatively about someone else because of the way that their body appears or the way their body fits in the clothing they chose to wear,” said Emily Hegg, the Assistant Director for Health Promotion in the Student Health Service Department at North Dakota State University. “That negative talk is also self-talk.”
The Body Project is a program that is focused on helping college-age women with their experiences of body image, the impact of culture and society on how they see themselves and others and teaching women how to get rid of negative body talk.
Although the program is designed for women specifically, anyone with a body who wants to learn more about their own feelings and how to accept others’ differences and similarities is allowed to participate in the workshops that the program has to offer.
“We look in the mirror and we don’t like what we see or we pick apart things that we see,” Hegg said. “The program addresses these problems through a workshop.”
There are two session workshops that individuals from various schools can participate in via Zoom. Each workshop is two hours long and is facilitated by trained peer leaders who engage in conversation aiming to help and give insight to a healthy body image and the importance of a clear perspective of oneself and others while incorporating different exercises to allow the individuals to converse about what body image looks and feels like.
The Body Project has been found to reduce appearance ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, negative mood, unhealthy dieting and eating disorder symptoms.
After the first session, the participants are given an assignment before they attend the follow-up session. These activities include going home and looking in the mirror to think positive things about oneself rather than picking out everything they dislike about their body. The second session is designed to debrief on some activities the participants have done.
An important part of the conversations that happen within the workshops deals with going against negative talk that is heard when from others and having the confidence to stand up and say “no let’s not look at it that way,” or “let’s now say such negative things, let’s be more positive.”
“Hopefully by doing that we are spreading more kindness and self-love throughout campus,” Hegg said.
The experiences and knowledge that the program wants individuals in the workshop to leave with are that a positive body image of oneself and others is important for health and overall well being. Another goal is to have the peer educators and students that engage in the program to operate differently from that point forward and share that message with their friends.
“The main message that we went to everyone in the workshop to leave with is just self-love, to walk away with a deeper understanding of who they are and having a greater self-love for themselves and respect,” Hegg said.
“I think that once we have that greater love and understanding about our own bodies we’ll be more accepting and open to others.”
The Body Project is now trying to be more mindful and adaptive to how they offer to message for the different sessions and activities. If you can’t attend the workshop, there is an Instagram and a Facebook page through Health Promotion that you can visit to learn more about the program.
For more information, visit https://www.ndsu.edu/studenthealthservice/healthpromotion/body_project/