Students Struggle with Body Image

Article excerpt

Byline: Jackie Sager

Exams. Jobs. Friends. Papers. Debts. Ministries. Boyfriends. Parents. Just when you think women in college have enough to worry about, you're wrong.

Body image.

It pervades most women's daily thoughts as they criticize, analyze and mold their bodies.

The problem lies in comparing themselves to the standard image of beauty, which for the most part is unachievable. It's overwhelming; it can cause self-esteem to fall so low that it eventually disappears.

The standard comes from media that present the popular image in every advertisement and feature story. Negative body image is not an unfamiliar issue. Sometimes, though, a few women will try to verbalize their feelings in an effort to stop it.

Students for Biblical Equality, a club at Wheaton College, spoke up about the problem Monday night at a discussion held on campus titled "Body Image: History and Effects." Editorials in the college newspaper and informal campus conversations inspired the event, which was meant to be an encouragement to all Wheaton students who can't get out from under the stress of body image.

"Every woman deals with (body image). You have to. You can't not, whether it's positive or negative," said senior Jordan Craven, a female student.

At the meeting, women heard each other voice feelings that they all have on a daily basis. The critical thoughts are so common that the abusive thought processes begin to feel normal and acceptable. Thoughts lead to diet and exercise rituals that sometimes supply a temporary peace of mind to women, giving them the feeling that they are at least taking initiative to fix their unacceptable bodies.

"You can't put a lot of distance between thoughts of your body image and your everyday life," said junior Megan Laughlin.

The event's leaders discussed fluctuating standards of what is beautiful. They mentioned examples of devices women have used to mold their bodies throughout history.

Club member Katie Schuenke discussed the corset and the practice of foot binding as examples of unhealthy contraptions. …