Love Your Body encourages healthy self-perception
The Penn Women's Center and the Penn Consortium of Undergraduate Women brought the National Organization of Women's campaign to Penn this week
November 9, 2011, 10:03 pm · Updated November 10, 2011, 3:39 am·
Is it any wonder that 80 percent of United States women are dissatisfied with their appearance?
The National Organization of Women poses this question to women and girls as part of its Love Your Body Campaign, which is taking place at Penn this week. The Penn Consortium of Undergraduate Women teamed up with the Penn Women’s Center to bring the NOW campaign to campus this fall.
“The main goal is to recognize the pressures put on people and their bodies to look a particular way and to break and resist those pressures,” College senior and PCUW Chair Meg Hlousek said.
She added that such pressures arise from a failure to accept a diverse range of body types. “The media, the family, socioeconomic … and class background are all things that can shape your body image,” she said, adding that athletes can have a particularly tough time.
A series of events were planned in order to touch upon the different issues that affect body image and the way people perceive themselves within our society.
“The work of Love Your Body has been going on on campus through a number of organizations in different places,” Hlousek said, adding “any time you bring in body images and pressures on people into a program, the [hosting] group is working to further the work of Love Your Body.”
The campaign aims to transcend gender, race and age in order to deliver the message that everyone should strive to have a healthy perception of self, College junior and Vice Chair of University Relations Adrienne Edwards said.
Twenty five percent of college-aged women have used bingeing and purging as a “weight management technique,” according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders website.
“Disordered eating and eating disorders are an issue on this campus, especially in such a stressful environment in which people strive for perfectionism,” Hlousek said.
Denise Lensky, deputy director of Counseling and Psychological Services, explained that students who succeed academically usually contain some personality characteristics that could make then vulnerable to eating disorders.
“At Penn, like other schools nationally, eating disorders are a very significant issue,” Lensky said. “There’s abundant evidence that especially among teenage and young adult women eating disorders are a prevalent problem and it is a growing problem for men.”
Lensky said that the “high-powered, fast-paced environment” at Penn could expose some stressors that could trigger students who are vulnerable to eating disorders, whether or not they have shown symptoms in the past.
There is a Barbie doll, created to mimic human proportions, outside of the Penn’s Women Center during this week as a part of the Love Your Body campaign, Edwards said.
Barbie wouldn’t be able to survive if she were a human, because she would be too thin for her organs to fit properly, she explained.
“She wouldn’t be able to balance because her feet are too small and she wouldn’t be able to stand up because she would be too top heavy,” Edwards added.
“As long as that image is being sold and marketed as an ideal, that is problematic,” Hlousek added.
Over one half of teenage girls and nearly one third of teenage boys “use unhealthy weight control behaviors” like skipping meals, vomiting or smoking cigarettes, according to a study by University of Minnesota professor Dianne Neumark-Sztainer.
“This is a project that is ongoing and needs to be ongoing because the pressures are always there and always constant,” Hlousek said.