Zumba in the YU?! Many may have been surprised last Tuesday and Thursday afternoon by seeing students and faculty doing Zumba in the YU as part of UWS Body Image Week. A week dedicated to promoting positive body image and raising awareness of the potential harm caused by a negative body image.
Body Image week not only offered a couple rounds of Zumba in the YU but also Informational forums and discussions on body image; what it is, how we develop it, the factors that effect it, and the potential harm it may cause.
So what exactly is body image?
Kristy McGiffert, the Health Educator in Student Health and Counseling, explained, “We all have body image. Body image is the way we feel about our bodies. And we have ideas and feelings about how others perceive us. Your overall body image can range from very positive to very negative. You may not feel good about certain parts of your body or the way you look. Body image is also how you feel in your body (build, legs, nose, stomach, skin, hair, etc.)”
She explained that it is important to know that these images we have of ourselves are not developed on our own. Outside factors, such as friends, family, peers, and our culture strongly influence this image. Kristy also stated that our emotional state at the time can influence our body image. When our feelings about school, work, or a relationship change many notice that how they view themselves also changes.
What issues may come with a negative body image?
When a person feels that they do not measure up to expectations within their family, friends, peers, media and culture, a negative body image may develop. This negative image can cause them to feel dissatisfied, self-conscious, awkward, or maybe shameful. Kristy explained how this is normal for everyone to feel from time to time, but once this is a constant feeling it can possibly become a problem.
“Having a negative body image can affect both your mental and physical health. It can cause depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, shame, trouble concentrating, taking risks with sexual health, anti-social behaviors, and mental health problems such as anorexia, bulimia, over-exercising or overeating,” said Kristy.
It is important to learn about body image and the potential harms that a negative image can cause. If you have any questions or would like to speak with someone about this subject contact the Student Health and Counseling Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 715–394-8236.