Confidence is beauty”

Zumba on Thursday

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 shcs@uwsuper.edu or by phone 715–394-8236.

Image cour­tesy of Nate Nanninen
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