Be Sexy, Be Confident, Be Beautiful - BU

Be Sexy, Be Confident, Be Beautiful - BU

Facts  • Dispelling the Myths  • Important Issues

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  • Twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8% less that the average woman—but today, models weigh 23% less.
  • Researchers have found that exposure to media depictions of thin female models lead women and girls to overestimate their own bodies, and report lower self-esteem.
  • In a study of college students, 74.4% of women stated that they thought about their weight or appearance “all the time” or “frequently”. But the women were not alone; the study found that 46% of men surveyed responded the same way.
  • According to a recent Glamour magazine survey, 97% of readers admitted to having at least one "I hate my body" moment a day. Women averaged 13 negative body thoughts a day.
  • According to the American Anorexia/Bulimia Association, an estimated 1% of U.S. teenagers suffer from anorexia. Up to 10% of these sufferers will die.
  • Most eating disorders begin with a weight loss diet. 7 million women and 1 million men suffer from eating disorders. Up to 22% will die as a result of the disorder.
  • 75% of American males are unhappy with their body size or shape and feel the need to trim fat and increase muscle.
  • The weight loss industry makes over $40 billion per year.

Dispelling the Myths

  • Eating disorders are just a girl thing: Eating disorders pose a problem to most groups in our society. Men can suffer from unhealthy body image as well. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, almost 50 percent of American men don’t like their overall appearance. Researchers have found that males and females with an eating disorder have similar clinical characteristics, such as an obsession with thinness, distorted body image, and emotional problems. They also share similar factors such as socioeconomic status, family dynamics, and a history of weight disturbance. Although men are considered a low-risk group for eating disorders, partly because they are not under as much social pressure to be slim and thin, we should be aware of the "Pursuit of Fitness" among many men. This may lead to obsessive-compulsive thinking and behaviors, low self-esteem, and distorted body image – characteristics of eating disorders.
  • Only a certain race suffers from negative body image: Negative body image affects people regardless of sex, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, class or sexual orientation.
  • Celebrities and models are the image of perfection: It’s important to understand that even models and celebrities don't look like their pictures in real life, so don’t strive to be Halle Berry or Heidi Klum. There have been recent efforts to label photo-shopped images or to ban them altogether.
  • Only thin people have positive body images: Body image is not about one’s weight it’s an internal feeling. Many very thin people have poor body image and many larger men and women feel good about themselves. It’s important to view one’s body realistically and to acknowledge that even if there are things about your body that you dislike, you must treat your body with care and respect, nourishing it properly and caring for yourself.
  • Since female college students are usually intelligent and well-educated, they are a low-risk group for eating disorders: Female college students are expected to be competitive and successful, and at the same time remain feminine and "desirable." Such demands may create conflicts and overwhelming feelings. This may be a factor in why they develop problematic relationships with food: sometimes limiting food intake to attain desirable slimness and femininity and sometimes indulging in food to comfort emotional distress.
  • Because people with eating disorders tend to remain secretive about their eating behaviors, it is extremely difficult to detect and help them: It is very common for people to participate in bingeing and/or purging behaviors for years before their family or friends notice a problem. Learning about eating disorders could help to detect early warning signs including repeated trips to the bathroom right after meals, vigorous exercise, obsession with body weight and persistent weighing. Making yourself knowledgeable about medical complications such as: hair loss, complaints of sore throat and bloating stomach, fatigue and muscle weakness, and tooth decay can help to identify an eating disorder. Because so much shame and guilt is involved, acknowledging that there is a problem can be very terrifying. Direct and supportive communication, consultation, and help from professionals (such as physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and nutritionists) can often lead to a successful beginning of the treatment and recovery process.

Important Issues

  • Anorexia nervosa: A type of eating disorder in which people have an intense fear of gaining weight. They severely limit the amount of food they eat and can become dangerously thin. Anorexia affects both the body and the mind. It may start as dieting, but it gets out of control. You think about food, dieting, and weight all the time. You have a distorted body image. Other people say you are too thin, but when you look in the mirror, you see a fat person.
  • Bulimia nervosa: An eating disorder characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating, followed by frantic efforts to avoid gaining weight. When you’re struggling with bulimia, life is a constant battle between the desire to lose weight or stay thin and the overwhelming compulsion to binge eat.
  • Cutting: A serious form of self-injury that involves cutting oneself to the point of bleeding. This form of self-abuse tends to be more common among women, with about 1% of the US population practicing cutting. It can be hard to understand why people cut themselves on purpose. Cutting is a way some people try to cope with the pain of strong emotions, intense pressure, upsetting relationship problems, or self-esteem problems due to body image.
  • Laxative abuse: Occurs when a person attempts to rid their body of unwanted calories, lose weight, or tries to “feel thin” through the repeated misuse of laxatives. Often, laxative misuse happens because individuals often believe that the laxatives will work to rush food and calories through the stomach and bowels before they can be absorbed. That does not really happen.
  • Exercise addiction: A compulsory need for some physical type of exercise. Like other addictions, people with exercise addiction have lives which revolve around their exercise. They feel compelled by their exercises and refuse to miss a work-out session. Some people will even exercise when they have physical injuries, thus exacerbating their wounds and creating further damage.

Media’s Mission: Too often, the media portrays images of “perfection” that aren’t really there; instead they are images of real people that have been photoshopped and placed in magazines. That causes women to feel bad about themselves because they don’t look like that. Today, beauty is visualized stereotypically on the outside, but there is so much more to beauty than that.

The Women Resource Center’s Mission: We are here as advocates and supporters of growth and development for healthy body images and attitudes among all members of the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania community. We take action to insure that all people have access to the information necessary to make informed decisions about health care, especially as it relates to weight, eating disorders and diets. We want to teach people how to proclaim their rights in a world that is taught that a size “0” is ideal. It is very important that we work together to support and reinforce each other as we undertake various approaches in addressing this complex issue of body image. We encourage the self-respect and equality of all people regardless of sex, race, ability, age, class, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, religion, size or appearance and will work with others to try to change the system that limits and controls people's lives.