On Tuesday, November 18th, the Psychology Honor Society on campus, Psi Chi, hosted an event titled, “An Image of Hope,” from 6-8 p.m. in the Gengras Student Union.
The purpose of this event was to discuss the problems caused by body image and self perception in society, and how to fix it.
There were two professional speakers at the discussion: Dr. Nick Pinkerton, director of CAPS, the Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Hartford, and Robin Rice, the creative director of a social change campaign called, “#StopTheBeautyMadness.” Both discussed how the media and our culture influence how people judge themselves based on their appearances.
First, Dr. Pinkerton took the stage, discussing the relationships that people have with themselves. He asked the audience, “Why is it so hard to feel good about our appearance?”
He then went on to explain how our culture makes it unacceptable to compliment our bodies without it being egocentric. He says, “So we ignore our bodies when it comes to goodness, but when it comes to badness, there it is.” Here, he is emphasizing how the rules are reversed when it comes to putting ourselves down. It is normal conversation to discuss the flaws of our bodies, but socially not-okay to compliment our own strengths.
Next, Robin Rice spoke up about how to fix the problems that society is facing people with. She discusses how although media and culture are primarily responsible for this self perception issue, it also stems from people themselves.
When asked if the media was to blame, she responded, “Certainly we see a lot of evidence that the media is there, but we’re also behind the media. We’re the ones that buy the magazines. We’re the ones that watch the television. We’re the ones that do all of this, so it’s all of us.”
After explaining the sources of these problems, Rice gave reasons why there is hope that the views of body image and self perception will change. There is a common theme in all of her statements which all start off with the phrase, “There is hope when….”
One of the major steps mentioned is that there is hope when “you can be you without an apology.” What Rice means by this is that when people can be themselves without feeling obligated to explain their actions or appearance to other people, or apologize for it, they will be closer to being happy with their self perception.
Rice closed her arguments by telling the audience that it is the younger generations who are in control of changing how the world views body image and self perception. It is their job to take actions that will make a difference, as little as those actions may be.
She highlighted the importance of telling little girls how smart, interesting and magnificent they are, rather than ravishing about how cute, pretty, and beautiful they may be. She also spoke about the significant influence words have on little boys when they are told not to cry, to make a lot of money and to stay tough; those kids are listening to this important, young generation, which is why it is in their power to change things.
After the event, Brice Werner, the co-vice president of Psi Chi and Psych Society on campus, told STN how body image is a problem everywhere, including on college campuses. Psi Chi wanted to bring attention to the problems that people are facing every day regarding self perception, and hopes that the event helped to teach people what they can do to make a change.