Peer Educators tackle the issue of body image

Laura Christopher

Body image. Two little words that can have one very big effect on a person.

Most people have stood in front of the mirror and felt unhappy about some part of their body. “My hips are too wide.” “My stomach is too fat.” “My nose is too big.” “My breasts are too small.” Although our friends and roommates assure us that we are clearly out of our minds and we look fine, something inside us cannot believe it. However, when those same friends and roommates are having their own personal crises in front of the mirror, we expect them to believe us when we reassure them that they are, in turn, crazy.

So what makes it so hard to see ourselves realistically?

One of the most dangerous things about this selective vision is the effect it can have on the way people view food. Instead of looking at a sandwich as sustenance, some see it as potential pounds. This distorted way of seeing food can potentially led to unhealthy eating habits.

The Counseling Center for Peer Educators recognize that this is a scary reality, especially for college students. They are collecting personal accounts from students about the effects college has on attitudes towards food and views on body image.

“I do think that many students suffer from body image problems at Villanova, even if they don’t always translate into actual eating disorders,” said senior Matt Siblo, one of the peer educators. “There’s no easy answer or solution but it’s something that needs to be discussed more as an actual problem instead of treating things like fad diets and binging as normal behaviors.”

Appearance has become so important, especially on college campuses, that having a fit, trim body and eating right is no longer about being healthy. It is as firmly seated as any fashion trend that exists in society today. Many college students lift weights religiously in the campus gyms. Numerous college students are on diets.

Not all of the students that comply with this craze have eating disorders. And yes, some students simply want to remain in good health. But the students who take it to the extreme do exist.

“Body image is something that we ourselves have to be comfortable with,” Siblo said. “Setting goals, realistic ones, mind you, is important. It’s extremely important to treat food for what it is: fuel for our bodies.

“As soon as we let it take on a greater meaning, [i.e., a means of self-control, punishment, reward, etc.] our relationship with food and our body image is in danger of becoming distorted,” Siblo said.

The personal accounts collected by the Counseling Center for Peer Educators will be anonymously presented during the Counseling Center’s presentations on campus later in the semester. Personal accounts can be dropped off at the Counseling Center Room located in the Health Services Building, or e-mailed to one of the peer educators.

The line between staying healthy and becoming obsessed is treacherously thin. So when it comes to seeing your body image, try to stay in focus.