Feminist Round Table: Body Image

Doyle Center hosts conversation on campus


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

On Tuesday, Sept. 28, the Doyle Center hosted a Feminist Round Table for students and staff to discuss the impact and importance of body image. 

Though there weren’t a large number of people who joined in the discussion, the seven staff members and students who did join offered many opinions and experiences. 

A main discussion point was that of the media and how body image is such a prevalent topic, whether the focus is positive or negative. 

With the access users have to the internet and social media today, the influence different outlets have on a person’s personal image of themselves is astronomical. 

Beck Hanner, the organizer for the event, shared that, “I wanted to start the conversation about college student’s body image. I wanted to highlight how media impacts body image, get an idea of what others find important to highlight when discussing this topic, and I wanted to gain an understanding of goals others have when it comes to understanding body image in our campus setting.”

A question that was brought up was that of positive influences in media today regarding body image. Many shared very personal thoughts and some widespread ideas such as the inclusivity of Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty lingerie line. 

This line had a fashion show recently and it showcased the beautiful bodies of different sized models. This isn’t something that has been seen in the past. The confidence shown by all the models was empowering to some who joined in the discussion. 

This confidence can be seen on our own campus. Students can see people of all different body types being proud of what they look like and use that confidence to empower their friends and even just the people that they walk past on campus. 

Many other of the students and staff who joined the discussion discussed what positive body image meant to them. 

Many discussed how they personally are trying to move away from thinking of their body image journey as a number that fluctuates depending on so many variables. 

When asked to clarify, they described it as “wanting to focus on how they felt about their bodies, rather than the number on the scale.” 

They try to think of it as a health journey, not a weight loss journey. Size fluctuation can be detimental to one’s mental health.

Many brought up the drastic change from high school to college living, concerning food and exercise. 

When someone goes from having regular gym class and regular meals that are planned for them and they don’t necessarily have to think about what their next meal is going to be to having a hectic schedule and having to rely on themselves for their exercise choices and food choices, it can be difficult. 

In American society, there is this stigma surrounding the “freshman 15” and how it is bad to even put on a little weight. Of course, someone’s body is going to change from when they are 18 or even from when they are 20. 

People’s schedules and hormones, even their genetics, play a role in whether or not they stay the same weight for a long period of time. Doctors also play a role in the idea that people of a certain weight are inherently healthy or unhealthy. We need to alter our view of what is healthy and unhealthy. 

The use of social media like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and the filters that are available have severely changed the way people see other people. One person used the word “damaging”, because “how often does someone use social media in todays society?”

Everyday people are on their phones looking at their friends’ posts or looking at a celebrity’s Instagram story that has been touched up to a point where you don’t know what is real and what isn’t. 

Another example someone brought up is when we filter what photos we post. 

Going through photos taken on a trip and only posting the ones that fit a certain aesthetic alters you own experiences and others’ perceptions of the trip. The people that are seeing those aren’t seeing the full scope of what was seen or what was worn on the trip. 

No one is perfect, but we live in a society that focuses on images at face value, not the full subject or person.  

Body image is always going to be a prominent issue. 

The way we see body image is up to us. We as individuals can control the media that we consume and can control the way we react to negative body image. 

Though we may react negatively in the moment, we can choose to stand up and look for positive body image that we can relate to. 

Someone can find another person that they relate to positively and focus on the good and healthy image that fits their life and their mind. 

When asked about any other events involving this subject matter, Hanner expressed that “Campus Climate and a few other groups have talked about brainstorming for another event related to body image. There are also two more round tables on different topics this semester.”