Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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College students struggle for healthy body image

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark (U-WIRE). — Marilyn Monroe wore a size 11, and decades later similarly famous models are fitting in size zero or one jeans on magazine covers, which millions of people read for the latest trends.

Body dissatisfactions among men and women are still a problem in societies today and are more prominent among college students, said Susan Rausch, a University of Arkansas health educator.

A study of 680 student athletes at Ohio State University found that 59 percent of the women thought they were fat and showed signs of eating disorders, and 20 percent of males displayed the same signs.

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One reason college students have more body dissatisfactions than other people, Rausch said, is because they’re exposed to many people closer to their age group and therefore have more opportunities to compare themselves to other people.

Along with peer pressure, Rausch also says family members and the media play big roles in adding to the problem.

“They’re promoting an ideal body that is biologically impossible to live up to,” she said.

Matt Jackson, a junior psychology major, said he could understand the problem’s origin.

“That’s the way it has been for some time,” he said. “Back in the 1800s, it was healthier to be plump.”

Rausch said that the idea of an “ideal” or thinner body got started in the 1960s with the model Twiggy. Twiggy, or Lesley Hornby, was a model who lived in a small suburb of London..

Katy Short, a senior majoring in communications, said, “I think it’s an ideal that society puts on [people], but intellectually it’s not true. It’s been so ingrained in the culture that they can’t help think about it.”

The ideal body size has also changed throughout the years. What was thin “back then” would not be thin now.

“Marilyn Monroe was a size 11, and models today are sizes zero to one and into the negatives,” Jackson said.

Rausch said she believes girls are pressured more than men are to be more beautiful.

“Girls are judged on their physical appearance, whereas men are judged on their intellectual abilities and economic success,” Rausch said.

Men in society today are also being pressured to look a certain way, though. Society tends to make the “ideal” man “large and in charge” with six-pack abs.

“I don’t think it’s as well known in men as it is in women,” said Melissa Smart, a senior Spanish major.

But men do think about size.

“I think that being larger, men will think they’re sexier than the next guy,” said Greg White, a senior majoring in physics.

Being unsatisfied with one’s body can overly affect people to the point that it may lead to eating disorders.

“Anorexia and bulimia are one end of the spectrum, and we see obesity on the other end,” Rausch said.

Both of these eating disorders can lead to death, Rausch said. Bulimia is purging, or throwing up after meals. People suffering from bulimia can experience damage to the esophagus and tooth decay.

Anorexia is when a person starves oneself and eats barely the amount of food necessary to stay alive.

This form of eating disorder is a highly life-threatening disease, Rausch said, adding that “after a while [the stomach] uses the body’s tissues for nutrition.”

Men tend to gravitate toward the use of steroids to cope with their body dissatisfactions. Overuse of these drugs can lead to brain cancer, liver damage and heart attack, even in young, “healthy” men.

Although body dissatisfactions continue to be a problem in today’s society, people are starting to realize that it is a problem.

Once society starts to realize that its stereotypes are just stereotypes and actually not ideal situations, people will start to find a cure, Short said.

“If we’re all supposed to look the same, then we would’ve been made to look the same,” Rausch said. “As a culture, we need to start loving who we are.”

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