Words have power, especially when it comes to body image, as the hosts of the “Body Image Literacy Workshop” clearly demonstrated.
The Women’s Resource Center at Dixie State University hosted the “Body Image Literacy Workshop,” inviting several speakers to come Monday and present in the Zion Room in the Jeffery R. Holland Centennial Commons, and speak on the subject of body image and body positivity.
“I love these kinds of things,” said St. George resident Taylor Brimhall. “I’ve struggled with an eating disorder, so it really helps to come to these kind of events and then share what I gained from them.”
Brimhall said she runs a blog called Finding Tay, detailing her struggle with body image and her resulting eating disorder. Her husband, Craig Brimhall, an adjunct over the first-year experience classes, said he comes not only to support her, but because the message of body positivity is important.
“There is so much noise out there, and [good body image] is important stuff everyone could benefit from,” Craig Brimhall said.
One of the speakers was Miss Utah Krissia Beatty, a senior communication major from St. George. She said during her time at the Miss America pageant, she realized her body image came under fire when she was stressed.
“When we’re put in stressful situations, we can forget who we really are,” Beatty said. “I even forgot the positive qualities that I like about myself.”
However, Beatty said a simple way she reminds herself of her positive attributes is a list of 10 things she likes about herself, and keeps the list on her phone.
“It helps me keep on track and stay focused on the good,” Beatty said.
However, Eva Beatty, a Health and Wellness Center therapist, asked attendees if they focus on their positive attributes.
“Are the words that come to your mind kind?” Eva Beatty asked. “Or are [your words] critical?”
Eva Beatty said she has seen many people’s self-esteem based on things like peer approval, good grades and body image. She said basing our self-esteem on our outward accomplishments could be challenging to a healthy body image, because if there is failure from any of these points, it could damage overall self-esteem and the linked body image.
“Everyone goofs up every once in a while,” Eva Beatty said. “So be kind to yourself and talk nicely even in your own head.”
Sara Wulfenstein, a senior business major from Pahrump, Nevada, said social media creates a trap for its users, as it gives people a false perception of others’ lives.
She said when she won Miss Dixie and went on to the Miss Utah competition, she was intimidated by the other contestants.
“I had only seen these other girls on social media, and I just felt overwhelmed by what looked like their perfect lives,” Wulfenstein said.
Wulfenstein said it was only during an ice-breaker game when she learned 95 percent of the women in the Miss Utah competition had moments of inadequacy, where the contestants “felt not good enough.”
“We need to remember that social media only portrays people on their very best, and we shouldn’t try to compare ourselves with [someone’s best],” Wulfenstein said.
Cultivating a good body image isn’t applicable to only one age group, Eva Beatty said. She said body image is one of the hardest things to work on, and reaching out for help when you’re struggling can be empowering.
“Don’t feel ashamed of needing help,” Krissia Beatty said. “There are resources on campus like the Health and Wellness Center, so get what you need and don’t feel like you can’t ask [for help].”