Students discuss how society affects body image

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The Women’s Center held an event to discuss body image Tuesday night.  Photo by    STIL    on    Unsplash

The Women’s Center held an event to discuss body image Tuesday night. Photo by STIL on Unsplash

The Women’s Center held a Tough Tea Time event on Tuesday night focused on the negative impact society has on women’s self perception.   

Co-chair of the Women’s Center programming committee and fifth-semester finance major, Kamya Trivedi, said she decided on body image as the subject of this event to get people talking about their struggles together. 

“If groups of people don’t get together to talk about body image, then certain stereotypes and expectations we have about our bodies are able to be pervasive in society,” Trivedi said. “we’re not actually talking about the fact that we may share insecurities and that we share a common experience.” 

The event started off with a Dove commercial featuring a forensic sketch artist that drew women based on the way they described themselves in comparison to how other women described them. 

“They were critical about themselves but when it came to others, they were describing a beautiful person,” the sketch artist said. 

After the video, the coordinators opened the floor to discussion, focusing on questioning where these self-hating behaviors come from. Students said photoshopped images in ads and Facetuned Instagram models can also be major reasons for the unattainable beauty standards women hold themselves to. 

The impact of social media influencers was also brought up, especially in terms of weight-loss products they promote. 

After this part of the discussion, another Dove commercial was played. This ad featured the start-to-finish photoshop transformation of a woman, including her skin being blurred and her eyes being made wider. The discussion was opened up again and the people in the room were asked if they ever felt pressured to look like the woman at the end of the ad. 

Most of the responses were quite similar, with participants saying that because of the way the model looks is so unrealistic, they have no interest in looking like that. Participants discussed that the pressure to look perfect changes as someone gets older. 

A participant shared a story about growing up in India, when she told her mother she wanted to look like a blonde-haired, white-skinned Barbie doll. 

To try to think critically about solutions to this problem, a coordinator of the program asked for ways to challenge these standards. The co-chair of the Women’s Center programming committee and fifth-semester secondary English education major, Grace Mandy, said that she fights standards by being aware of who she is following on social media. 

“Fitness people and Instagram models show that they have perfect lives, but they actually don’t,” Mandy said. 

Others gave suggestions such as using less Snapchat filters and less use of Photoshop. 

The group started a conversation about how women, especially, can take advantage of these expectations. First-semester computer science major, Julia Guskind, brought up how Kim Kardashian capitalizes on these standards because she fits them so well. 

She added that fitting unrealistic beauty standards so perfectly can be costly because of plastic surgery and, only people who have the money for surgery have the opportunity to reclaim beauty standards. 

“It’s a system that is only benefiting certain people who don’t need to be taking advantage of it in the first place,” Guskind said. 

Tommy Jacobsen, a graduate student studying curriculum and instruction, also spoke on the male experience of body image and how there is an expectation to be muscular and strong. 

“It’s always been a weird expectation to be able to lift people, like a girlfriend in a romantic situation,” Jacobsen said. 

Fifth-semester allied health major, Bruna Basso said the conversation taught her a lot about different perspectives on the challenges of body image. 

“Seeing how a guy might go through it and someone with a different culture might go through it was interesting to see,” Basso said. “We just don’t talk about it in everyday life so having a dialogue about it was very rewarding.” 


Gladi Suero is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gladi.suero@uconn.edu.

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