Students host body image speak-out Reply

By Briana Nestor — Managing Editor

Upon looking in the mirror, a mere 31.4 percent of students are satisfied with the image in the reflection, according to a sur vey conducted by 10 students in PS Y241 during the spring semester last year. This statistic, along with other surprising facts, was presented as part of the “For the Love of Our Bodies Speak Out,” held on March 5 in Rosen Auditorium.

“Body image is not something that is talked about openly. We wanted to create a safe space for students to talk about these issues,” said junior Tatiana Radonsky, who coordinated the event and conducted research with seniors Jessica Ahern and Katelyn Gormley, and juniors Caitlyn Pare and Bailey Carr.

There were originally 10 people working on the project, but those five women wanted to take their Participatory Action Research (PAR) project further.

The speak out allowed students to talk openly about their concerns regarding body image. Ahern and Radonsky presented stories submitted by anonymous writers and gave au- dience members the chance to share their own stories at the end of the speak out.

“I have attended a few different speak outs, and found them to not only create the safe space that I have been wanting, but also have such a profound impact on those who attend,” said Ahern. “I wanted the same for our efforts.”

Ahern and her group members traveled to Palm Springs, Calif., over spring break to present their formal research, titled “Loving Our Bodies: Improving Body Image and Eating Among Women on a Small College Campus,” at the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP) conference. There, the group held a roundtable discussion with graduate and undergraduate students from various colleges and professionals in the field.

Through their research, the group found that 93 percent of the 175 students surveyed believed the perfect dress size was a size eight or smaller, but the average size of American women is a size 14. Almost 68 percent of stu- dents know someone who is dealing with or has dealt with an eating disorder.

“Body image can affect anyone, regardless of what size, gender, or age they are,” said Gormley. “We hope to improve Lasell students’ body [images] by sharing what we found, having conversations about where this negativity stems from, and help students get connected with resources they need to help themselves or a friend.”

The group also found shocking national statistics. “$40 billion are spent on diet and diet-related products in the United States annually,” said Ahern. One study, conducted by Sovereign Health of California, found that adolescent girls were more afraid of gaining weight than of getting cancer or losing their parents, according to Radonsky.

The Health Center, located above Valentine Dining Hall in the Edwards Student Center, is a helpful resource for those struggling with body image concerns and eating disorders.

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