Seven women are taking on the images of women on TV and magazines promoting thin ideals, but these students are even challenging internal negative thoughts.

“We are constantly told that our worth and our value is only skin deep,” said Campus Wellness coordinator Laura Siltanen. “The Body Project is where these women have personal conversations, facilitated discussions and build a sense of solidarity. They are not alone.”

“The Body Project is a cognitive-dissonance-based body acceptance support resource that was designed to help women resist the sociocultural pressures to conform to the thin-ideal and reduce their unhealthy pursuit of thinness,” according to their website, www.bodyprojectsupport.org.

Since 2001, more than 1,000 college and high school students have participated in the project, which aims to look at women’s perspectives on their bodies and work toward a healthy body ideal.

Research shows that the one-hour sessions once every four weeks is effective in body appreciation.

“The sessions include verbal, written and behavioral exercises for body acceptance,” said Siltanen.

The Body Project was brought to Pacific in part with Campus Wellness and the counseling center.

Siltanen participated in the Body Project while she was an undergraduate at Oregon State University. She then went on to facilitate a group at Oregon State. Here at Pacific she will facilitate the discussions with a graduate student working at the counseling center.

At the end of the four-week session, the group is asked to work on a group project together. Some groups for example, have put body positive messages onto mirrors in bathrooms, not worn makeup in solidarity or Siltanen’s group wrote body positive messages into weight loss books.

“We get asked occasionally why there isn’t a men’s group,” said Siltanen. “We acknowledge that men face body issue concerns. On this campus there’s a need, if it’s the same as other colleges men have body image concerns. The research for men is underway.”

Siltanen said right now they need feedback from students on if they’d like The Body Project to continue more often on campus.

For more information, to request more projects like this or to talk independently with Siltanen contact her at wellness@pacificu.edu or 503-352-2273.

“It’s a fun, meaningful and encouraging experience,” said Siltanen. “We want to continue it in the future.”

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