Events focus on healthy self-imageHealth and body image are the focus of two community events at the University of Wisconsin-Superior this week.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Health and body image are the focus of two community events at the University of Wisconsin-Superior this week.
A workshop on “Media, Body Image and Eating Disorders” runs noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday in Room 204 of the Yellowjacket Union.
The session provides a basic level of understanding of eating disorders, reasons someone may develop an eating disorder and tools for prevention.
The workshop focuses on how to promote positive body image and self-esteem, while promoting optimal health and well-being through activity, nutrition and self-care.
People who accept the way they look and feel good about their bodies most of the time have a positive body image and understand that how they look does not determine their self-worth.
“Having a positive body image does not matter what you look like from the outside,” said UWS health educator Kristy McGiffert. “It’s all about how you feel about the way you look.”
A negative body image develops when someone feels her or his body does not measure up to family, friends, peers, media and culture.
“People with a negative body image are often very dissatisfied,” McGiffert said. “They may not see themselves as they really are.” They often feel self-conscious, awkward or shameful. A negative body image can cause depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, shame, trouble concentrating, taking risks with sexual health, anti-social behaviors, and mental health problems such as anorexia, bulimia, over-exercising or overeating, McGiffert said.
Healthier Douglas County Coalition focuses on America’s growing obesity epidemic with a showing of “The Weight of the Nation” 5-7 p.m. Thursday. The program includes viewing snippets of the HBO series and small group discussions on how to create a healthier environment.
“We’re hoping to get the community to talk about the risks and consequences of obesity,” said Sandy Liang, an AmeriCorps VISTA worker at UWS, and a member of the coalition.
Many people think weight control is a simple equation based on eating less and exercising more. But it’s more complex, Liang said. A person’s environment plays a big role, as well.
And if the environment is designed to push people into unhealthy habits, that can be hard to do.
“It’s not about losing weight, it’s about treating your body well,” Liang said. “You only have one body.”
Liang said the discussion focuses on making the decision to be healthy and then making the right choices to improve your health.
Next week is also Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Carolyn Phelps, the director of outpatient therapy at Human Development Center, offered a few tips for adults in a recent editorial to help prevent children from developing an eating disorder. They include eating healthy, exercising regularly and reasonably, not teasing or criticizing girls’ bodies or eating, accepting those who do not match the ideal, encouraging young people to get involved in sports and other activities that promote self-confidence, buying dolls that don’t have Barbie figures, throwing away scales and decreasing the time spent complaining about one’s own weight and appearance.
“When women and girls are valued and admired for who they are, as reflected by what they do, and how they treat and respect other people, and how they are treated and respected, they may stop being obsessed by how they look,” Phelps wrote.