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Body Image Resources

Body Image

Hokie Wellness believes that all bodies are incredible, diverse, amazing, and all deserve to be cared for and celebrated. We also know that we sometimes view our own bodies in a negative way. Our personal body image affects our physical, emotional, and academic success and well-being.

The Healthy Ideal vs. The Appearance Ideal

With the Appearance Ideal, the goal is to attain a physique that is neither realistic nor healthy. In an effort to achieve The Appearance Ideal, sometimes people go to extreme measures like unhealthy weight control behaviors and excessive exercise.

peer educator presenting body image material

What is the Healthy Ideal?

  • The Healthy Ideal is the way your unique body looks when you are doing the necessary things to appropriately maximize your physical and mental health, and overall quality of life
  • The goal of The Healthy Ideal is health, fitness, functionality, and longevity. A healthy body has both muscles and adequate fat tissue.
  • The Healthy Ideal involves feeling good about how our body both feels and works.

In The Body Project workshop series, program participants will learn techniques to appreciate their bodies and learn behaviors that create shifts from negative body image to neutral or positive.

Body image concerns often begin at a young age and endure throughout life

By age 6, girls especially, start to express concerns about their own weight or shape and 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat (Smolak, 2011)

Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives (Neumark- Sztainer, 2005)

The body positive movement is making great strides to promote size diversity, body acceptance, and a healthier body image for all ages, genders, races, and abilities. It is important that we continue to embrace body diversity by recognizing all bodies as good bodies.

  • Mindful eating and healthy physical activity are part of a well-rounded lifestyle. Assess your eating and exercise habits; strive for balance and moderation over extreme measures
  • Encourage eating of a variety of foods in moderation
  • Don’t treat food as a reward or punishment; such behaviors set food up as a potential weapon for control
  • Discourage the idea that a particular diet or body size will lead to happiness and fulfillment
  • Encourage eating in response to body hunger
  • Allow all foods in your home
  • Don’t constantly criticize your own shape (e.g., “I’m so. . . I’ve got to lose weight.”) This type of self-criticism implies that appearance is more important than character, and that there is always room to ‘improve’ one’s appearance.
  • Practice body gratitude

Hokie Wellness actively works to improve body image through programs like the Body Project Workshop Series for Women, Body Matters Week, Anti-Fat Talk Education, and the Body Project Photo Booths.

In Body Project workshops, program participants will learn techniques to accept, or even like their bodies, and concrete strategies to continue body image activism in the future.