By Chanapa Tantibanchachai
The constant bombardment of unattainable ‘ideal’ beauty standards from media outlets combined with equally unrelenting advertisements from companies who insist their products will make you desirable oftentimes leads to body image dissatisfaction and distress. Young adults on college campuses are particularly susceptible to feeling dissatisfied with their physical appearance. Furthermore, research shows that Utah college students face additional, unique cultural pressures that contribute to body dissatisfaction; Utah holds the most plastic surgeons per capita — beating even California and New York. This environment leads many to experiencing body image dissatisfaction within the U’s campus.
The negative impacts of body image dissatisfaction include effects on levels of anxiety, happiness, depression and even academic performance. Research shows that coping styles serve as a moderating effect to decrease body dissatisfaction and body anxiety.
This spring, the U will offer ED PS: 5960-090: Developing a Healthy Body Image, an online course available to both undergraduate and graduate students that will teach relevant and proven coping techniques to serve each student and help her or him work towards a healthier personal body image. This class will be taught from a positive psychology perspective, which will focus on a personal body acceptance workshop for each student.
Students will have weekly readings from two different texts. One will be a personal workbook containing exercises for self-exploration called “The Body Image Workbook.” The other text, “Body Image: Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women, and Children,” will contain various topics designed to help students understand where the messages about our bodies have originated.
In addition to these texts, students will view several videos about how the media portrayal of men and women contributes to lower body image satisfaction. These videos include “Miss Representation”, “The Mask You Live In” and “Killing Us Softly.”
The course will utilize self-reflection as well as review current body image social issues, making it a great class to add to a busy schedule to make time for self-care. During the semester students will learn more about themselves and the messages that they have internalized regarding their body and move towards body acceptance and body satisfaction. Students will also explore the current literature available to understand more about the current research being utilized to change body politics.
The online class will be a supportive, safe environment for each student to explore and improve their own beliefs about appearances.
Chanapa Tantibanchachai is an associate science writer at University Marketing and Communications. If you have an interesting story idea, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.