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What is city college of San Francisco doing to assist women with body image issues and how does it impact their chances of success?
The pressure from the media and magazines for women to be thin is overreaching. Women pay the price for focusing on their magazines filled with thin and half hungry women. With body image negatively impacting women and their success, institutions like City college of San Francisco helps students by providing services according to their individual needs.
Body image plays a vital role on how one sees themselves and how development influences certain thoughts about oneself. ResearchGate defines it as, “a merging of one’s outer appearance with perceptions derived from personal and cultural factors; body image is a multidimensional construct that is inﬂuenced by biological, psychologic, and social factors.” An individual sees themselves through many facets, how you feel and conduct yourself maybe from culture and or biology. It is not just one influence, environmental and biology plays a role. We must also include psychological factors of how a person thinks about themselves and social factors of how individuals interact with each other.
Women with body image issues were sometimes told as a child or an adolescent by parents that they need to lose weight when they didn’t need to and according to ResearchGate it may lead to body dissatisfaction. To better understand what it is The National Eating Disorders Collaboration defines it as, “When a person has negative thoughts and feelings about his or her own body, body dissatisfaction can develop.” Body image issues goes deeper than what we see, it can occur overtime and it can be influenced by parents and love ones. Parents aren’t perfect and the media may have an effect on them and in turn they may encourage their kids to lose weight. As a result it encourages the adults to try to become thin and in doing so they are enforcing an already unhealthy message that may signal to their kids that they aren’t loved and or appreciated in their own skin.
Magazines play an important role on how women sees themselves, because they want to imitate those ultra-thin women that they see and that is not helping women with body image issues because it is somewhat unrealistic look. Women purchase magazines to see what is in style or in fashion for the season and the magazines may seem innocent but is not always so, that perfect ideal can get obsessive for some girls. Additionally according to Chapman, “When women do not naturally fit the standard or do not constantly strive to fit the standard, they are considered to have failed themselves, and most often, are told that they should be ashamed.” The media has presented the ideal woman who is perfect in every way in her appearance but the ideal look isn’t achievable yet vulnerable women and teens are attached to these fables of this perpetuated lie. Women and girls are then feeling rejected for not having that ideal look that they are striving for but it’s not attainable because everyone is made differently.
How we think about our bodies is important and it directly affects our daily activities whether we know it or not, hence having a healthy mind is very vital to our day to day survival. A woman with body issues may find it difficult to dress herself because of her lack of confidence in her appearance and as a result she may spend hours just looking in the mirror to find faults. Another issue is that she may be meticulous about what to wear, she would nitpick about what dress seems perfect to everyone else but not to her and she may feel less confident than other women. For example, a woman with body issues may spent most of her morning getting dress and finding it difficult to find something to wear but in her eyes nothing is perfect. Women with body issues has these daily problems due to the fact that they cannot make a decision because of how they view themselves.
It is especially challenging for women with body issues in a competitive environment such as a college or university because it is difficult for women suffering with negative thoughts of their own perceptions of themselves to integrate into a social environment of the classroom and this exposure can lead to them being ridiculed or feeling insecure. For example, a woman who has body image issues may feel less confident in her appearance than her peers and she may become withdrawn especially when socializing or interacting in a classroom setting or even going to the school’s restroom because of the mirrors or the presence of other schoolmates. She may also have difficulties eating in public because she may have developed an eating disorder, which The National Eating Disorders Collaboration states that it may occur because of, “overvaluing body image in defining ones self-worth…” Women who has the need to be accepted no matter what and defining their self-worth through magazines can be dangerous. Especially when they are being described as fat and are seeing themselves with flaws that are not there or emphasizing on slight imperfections. This is where schools and other educational institutions need to shine because they are enrolling women who may have body image issues who need the help.
Institutions such as the City College of San Francisco has facilitated the need for students with body image issues according to theirTitle IV-E Training Topics section of their website, under their subsection of Psychological, Social, & Education, it which states that, “In a society that continues to focus on body image, the developing youth are particularly at risk for developing an eating disorder…” Their website’s information is limited as it relates directly to women but there are other resources available at the institution to better direct women to seek help when dealing with body image issues. Other programs are available from their Student Health Services Resources Mental Health department’s website, they offer resources on mental health which includes, “California Community Colleges Student Mental Health Program, Institute of Mental Health and Self-Help.” Under The National Institute of Mental Health there are information on eating disorders which is one of the effects of having body image issues and there are also treatment and therapies available.
The City College of San Francisco also provides resources on group activities, under the City college of San Francisco Support Groups section of the website and some of these groups that is listed are, Building Community at CCSF, Stress Less, Overcome Anxiety & Self-Consciousness and The Tea Group. The building Community CCSF group helps to support students by working on stress and time management, communication skills, conflict resolution etc., while the stress less support group helps to Build skills to reduce anxiety, increase mindful awareness, soothe the inner critic, cultivate self-compassion, center your life around growth and purpose, and to nourish hope. Additionally, the Overcome Anxiety & Self-Consciousness group addresses issues of students who feel self-conscious, boring, or uncomfortable in social situations, and students will learn strategies that will help them feel more confident participating in class and socializing with friends. Each group is designed to help students which means that women with body issues can also benefit from at least attending a few sessions of a group and this may help to decrease certain effects of body issues. For example, a woman who has body issues can attend the Overcome Anxiety & Self-Consciousness group and the benefits may help to reduce her from feeling uncomfortable in social situations or learn how to become more confident in a social setting. Women may find peers that are suffering from body image issues that are of the same group and they can share ideas. They may also collaborate on strategies and support each other on how to handle body image issues. Women can find strengths amongst themselves, some feminist finds it truly liberating to relieve themselves of negative thinking as to never tear themselves down to please sexist society, according to hooks, “Women stripping their bodies of unhealthy and uncomfortable, restrictive clothing bras, girdles, corsets, garter belts, etc. – was a ritualistic, radical re claiming of the health and glory of the female body. (Chapter 6)” Women can gather strength through each other in order to cope with a society that glorifies a certain look or body image and its ok for a woman to express herself as how she would want to be seen.
Body image issues are complex, it takes time and it affects how a woman thinks and or feel about herself. Her chances of success in an institution without support maybe low because she needs extra help with maintaining a healthy body image and according to the Journal of Psychology and Clinical Psychiatry it states that, “Many factors influence the academic performance; self-image is one of the important factors. When the person is satisfied, he will be happier, confident, motivated, and will have right attitude to succeed.” Its straight forward, a person with a positive body image will have more confidence and are able to focus more on their studies instead of struggling with how they feel about their body image on a daily basis.
The impacts of body image issues is a huge problem but it is not impossible for a woman to get help and City College of San Francisco is there to help students as best as possible. Attending groups, using the resources of the school and focusing on positive thoughts can propel a student to their desired success.
- Chapman M. Taylor, Women in American Media: A Culture of Misperception. Inquiries Journal.2011, www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/1677/women-in-american-media-a-culture-of-misperception
- City college of San Francisco. Support Groups
- hooks, bell. feminism is for everybody. Routledge, 2015
- Journal of Psychology and Clinical Psychiatry. MedCrave.Body’s Image Concerns And Its Impact On Academic Achievements .2017
- ResearchGate. Body image, eating disorders, and the media. January 2009 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/24025314
- Student Health Services Resources Mental Health https://www.ccsf.edu/en/student-services/student-health-services/Resources.html
- Title IV-E Training Topics. Psychological, Social, & Education https://www.ccsf.edu/en/educational-programs/contract-education/title4e/title4e_training_topics/title4e_topics_psych_social_ed/title4e_topics_pshcy_social_ed_Psych_issues.html
- The National Eating Disorders Collaboration. NEDC Fact Sheet – Body Image www.nedc.com.au
- The National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml
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