Many men and women often feel pressured to look a certain way due to photoshop, social media and beauty standards in general.
For a decade Illinois State University has been fighting these unrealistic body ideals with The Body Project, led mostly by students.
In the beginning, the program started as a Sorority Body Project seeking to embrace a positive body image for women in Greek Life.
The program has both students and facilitators that are trained in discussions and role playing scenarios. These scenarios range from displaying negative images to sharing their own personal experiences.
Laura Phillips, graduate assistant of The Body Project, discusses how all ages struggle with body image, but said it’s even more prevalent on college campuses because students are surrounded by people their own age which leads to comparing themselves.
“We aren’t promoting them to change their body but rather accept and love the body they are already in,” Phillips said.
Two years ago the program expanded to More than Muscles, a program geared toward unrealistic body expectations for men.
“Males struggle with body image just as much as females, but just aren’t as open talking about it … we want to change that narrative,” Phillips said.
Over 250 facilitators from The Body Project and More than Muscles have been trained in working with more than 1,600 ISU students.
There are Five Body Project seminars a semester and two More than Muscles each semester. The seminars are broken up into two days. The dates for the spring semester are up on their website. Students can also request a workshop for clubs.
“I hope it will change the narrative and make students more comfortable talking about it,” Phillips said.
“It’s our responsibility to change that and say that this [body image] is not acceptable anymore.”
Even if students aren’t struggling with body image, they may know someone that is and what is discussed at these seminars can be beneficial for everyone involved.