Kent State students learned how to maintain a positive body image through activities and discussion at the Women’s Center’s first Feminist Friday event.
The discussion was led by junior psychology major MaKayla Patrick, who interned for the Women’s Center over the summer.
“I just wanted people to leave and feel empowered,” she said. “I wanted people to be reminded of those things because we go day to day and not think anything about ourselves... because we’re so focused on going through the motions.”
Patrick started the event by having each student write an encouraging messages on two sticky notes, one which would be kept by the student for daily reassurance and another that would be displayed on the walls of the Women’s Center.
Freshman political science major Emma Kelly said she recently diagnosed herself with body dysmorphia and has since been using sticky notes to leave herself motivational reminders.
“Having a constant reminder to look at changes your mood,” she said. “Having a reminder of something that we so often don’t think about or practice, (like) self-love, helps to put it into practice.”
Patrick displayed statistics on body image, such as 98 percent of girls who feel outside pressure to look a certain way or the 78 percent of American girls who are unsatisfied with their bodies by the time they are 17 years old.
Students discussed sources of negative body image like society’s perception of women, photo editing and social media. Patrick displayed photos before and after they were edited, with the edited version depicting the model to be much skinnier.
Patrick said edited photos circulating social media is a major cause of body image issues those issues can be reversed, and by not editing photos.
“If we just stopped editing (our photos), then everyone is going to think that’s acceptable, and we can change what’s acceptable by doing that,” Patrick said.
Women are not alone when it comes to struggling with body image. Men can also struggle with their own appearances in terms of weight, height or muscle mass.
“No one is really advocating for (men) and they don’t get brought up,” Patrick said. “Women are the focus for bodies and that’s not it. Men also have those stereotypes and those stigmas.”
The main point of emphasis was to counteract the negative influence, and create a body positive environment and mindset.
Senior music and psychology major Jordan Worrell said women need to stop comparing themselves to other women.
“We need to root for our fellow sisters and women,” she said. “We can start doing that once we start rooting for ourselves. When we feel happy about ourselves, we’ll feel happy for other people.”
Patrick also said in order to change the stereotypes surrounding body image, there needs to be a change in how people feel about themselves.
“It starts with yourself,” she said. “If you don’t believe in yourself and you don’t love yourself, you can’t change the way other people are feeling about themselves, and you’re not changing the stigma around body positivity or self-love.”
Students took a look at the messages left by their peers before leaving the event. The motivational notes can be viewed inside the Women’s Center.
Worrell said she felt she was able to set some new goals for herself after the event ended.
“I feel that that is what every woman should strive for,” Worrell said. “Not that they have to be perfect, but that they are doing the best that they can every day, and knowing that that is enough for them. That’s all we really can do.”
Contact Zaria Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.