Ramapo’s Health Awareness Team held their “Love Your Body: Media and Body Image” event yesterday in the Alumni Lounges. The event offered students food, selfie stations, tables with themed activities and a screening of the film “Killing Us Softly 4.”
Heading into National Eating Disorders Awareness week, which begins at the start of next week, the “Love Your Body” event represents the first of several events occuring during the week. The event intended to generate awareness of the media’s unrealistic portrayal of the body and to encourage students to be active consumers, not allowing these images to deceive their perceptions of their own bodies.
“It is important to learn to be a critic of the ads and media that you see, so you realize they are not accurate depictions of yourself,” said peer educator Sarah Murphy.
As well as engaging with other peer educators, visitors were encouraged to play games at the different tables in order to test their knowledge of media literacy and analyze scenarios where portrayals of body images affected people.
Among the five activities, the first was a “This or That” station, where the players compared images that were either materialistic or aesthetically pleasing, with images that indicated an action. The goal was to put the cost of enhancing one’s body in perspective. For example, the price of breast implants equals roughly the same as a year of college tuition. Students like Chelsea Cardone, senior, found this activity to have the biggest impact.
“I like the 'This or That' the best out of the activities because I think there are better things you can spend your money on than the material things in life, and you can see that on that board,” said Cardone.
Another table entitled the “Valentine” station allowed students to write an anonymous message to themselves that encourage them to appreciate their own bodies.
The “Spin the Wellness Wheel” station gave attendees the opportunity to win a raffle ticket by answering media and body image related questions correctly.
While the “Wellness Wheel” taught that media includes TV, movies, magazines, newspapers, music, radio, advertising, social networks, photo and video sharing, and websites, the “Social Media and Body Image” booth expressed the importance of creating a positive identity across these outlets. In light of bringing health awareness to these platforms, the table listed ways in which users can call attention to negative or unrealistic images of the body.
Another activity asked students to analyze advertisements that have been criticized on aboutface.org for sexualizing women and causing viewers to doubt their own body image.
“I think seeing these ads after learning about body image can help build self-esteem and self-awareness,” said Moesha Muir, a sophomore.
Muir was positively influenced by the event’s efforts to encourage people to love their bodies and flaws despite the media’s portrayal of absolute flawlessness.
After the educational activities, students watched a screening of “Killing Us Softly 4,” a film in which media critic Jean Kilbourne uncovers the frightening truths found in American advertising. In her lecture, Kilbourne brought to light the underlying and obvious sexualization and objectification found in today’s advertising.
Along with Kilbourne, the Health and Awareness Team at Ramapo and other activists who realize these public health problems can change the environment by gaining more awareness and encouraging more people to understand its effects.