UMass Boston’s University Health Services' “Let’s Talk About It” series entered its fourth talk with the topic of body image. It is another talk in a series put on by University Health Services that seeks to destigmatize different topics. Body image was the topic of conversation for students during the week of March 5, opening the same as previous talks have with introductions including name, major and preferred pronouns.
The talk began with an overarching question to those in attendance: “What is body image?” Answers were given in examples of what students thought of when they heard the term “body image.” Such examples included, “body dysmorphia, weight, shape, dieting, positivity, muscles, exercise, and measurements.” Students also explained the definition of body image as being “how you see yourself” and “having a clear perception of one’s own body.” After establishing an overarching understanding of body image, students began to delve deeper into various subtopics of body image, such as body dysmorphia and the media. Students who attended last week’s talk on eating disorders referenced topics brought up, such as body image, which led to the next question: “Does unhealthy body image lead to or is connected to eating disorders?” The majority of the room agreed that it does not always, but could, lead to eating disorders, and how other factors come into play with unhealthy body image.
The topic of conversation switched to how body image could lead to a “weird obsession to look a certain way.” When asked, “What are some influences that affect body image?”, students responded in an array of answers. “Media, parents, society, fashion, influencers, social media, and internal and external factors” were all answers that were given. Many examples of celebrities and social media influencers as body image “role models” were mentioned, along with photoshop apps that are commonly used to change appearances. Common themes associated with unhealthy body images were mentioned by those in attendance, such as people who are already skinny still attempting to become skinnier, and body image ideals seen among athletes. Reiteration of “having to look a certain way” were common statements made by those in attendance.
One of the main subtopics of the talk was about body dysmorphia. Body dysmorphia is when someone looks at themselves and sees issues with their body that others do not perceive, or misperceiving oneself. Students were asked if they had any personal experiences with body dysmorphia, whether with themselves or someone they knew. Many students shared experiences where they gave positive affirmations to someone they knew, and how important positive affirmations are to someone dealing with body dysmorphia. Students also pointed out how society is not the only factor that leads to unhealthy body image; genetic and environmental factors could lead to an unhealthy body image. The talk came to a close with tips on how to combat unhealthy body image thoughts, including giving oneself three positive affirmations a day, and thinking about what one likes best about their friends—the last tip hinting that psychologically, one would think of non-body related attributes of their friends.
The "Let’s Talk About It" series continues through the months of March and April on Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. in the Campus Center, room 1110. Students can also earn 30 Beacon Reward points for attending. The following topics will be discussed:
4/9: Bystander Intervention
4/16: Relationships in Media
4/23: Sex Trafficking
4/30: Misconceptions of Mental Health