TUCSON, Ariz. — This week’s campus celebrity is a part of the University of Arizona Campus Health Staff for counseling and psychological services. Laura Orlich, who has been in the field since 1994 works predominately in psychological services regarding eating disorders and body image.
For college students, especially women, body image related issues are something that is on many of our minds every day. Being surrounded by peers of similar age and experience makes for an environment where it is almost impossible to not compare yourself to others around you. Not to mention, the amount of stress that comes with
Orlich says that in today’s society “men strive for the typical muscle look, whereas woman desire the thin ideal, thigh gap and bikini bridge stereotypes.” With these types “measurements” being engraved in many students’ minds, it is important to have resources for those who may be struggling with body related issues.
Orlich offers counseling to students who feel they need guidance in body confidence, eating disorders, as well as any body image issue they may be feeling or are concerned about. She defines body image as “the definition of a persons’ perception of how they’re physical appearance is experienced by others.”
Orlich explains that there are many triggers we students experience every day that attribute to negative body talk or perception. Some may be as simple as a not wanting to mature, a comment made, or comparison of ourselves to others. Orlich is determined to try and reduce these negative societal norms that are so common in college.
She as worked with the “Healthy Body Study” which is a study that was performed with seven other universities. Results from the UA alone were shocking. Statistics showed that 25% of all UA students who participated in the study said that body image, shape and weight, were the most important things in their lives. 76% of females said that in the last month they have had a strong desire to lose weight, and 50% of all students who participated in the study expressed a definite fear they might gain weight.
With information like this, Orlich is eager to help as many students as she can in reducing the pressures of body image related issues through her counseling. Orlich recommends that anyone who is having extreme negative body image thoughts should seek a professional advisor and possibly meet with a nutritionist or therapist.
“We can start looking at ourselves for other characteristics, attributes, and internal qualities that are responded positively by others,” said Orlich. “We should not just focus on the way we look.”
Orlich says ways we as a community can eliminate this negative stigma is by “withdrawing from fat talk and judging others, and to practice empathy for ourselves and for others.”
Professionals on campus such as Orlich want students’ college experience to be vibrant, full of life, and most of all positive and healthy. Orlich hopes students can “notice all of the miracles your body does without you even knowing it and to take into account all of the wonderful things your body does for you rather than just how it looks.”