Social media is often a place where girls and women compare themselves to celebrities and influencers, many with unrealistic body standards. This can create anxiety and an unhealthy standard for body image. Here at the University of Maryland, a group of women is attempting to change this.
Loveyourbodyumd is an Instagram account created and run by Austin Chau, Rachel Fried, Ila Ghosh, AJ Goldbloom, Vendela Krenkel, Agnes Lin and Anjali Verma as part of a project for their psychology of women course, taught by Dr. Monica Kearney. The account posts information and resources about body image and diet culture.
“The goal of the account is to help college women have a positive view of their body,” said Ghosh, a psychology major and disability studies minor.
Their campaign taking place on social media is another purposeful component of the group’s plan.
“Social media is a huge part of where a lot of us spend a lot of our time and get information,” said Verma, a sophomore government and politics major. “And so a lot of times there’s a lot of comparison and negativity. But through creating an Instagram account, we thought we could reverse that narrative and instead promote positivity.”
In a study done by the National Eating Disorders Association, the rate of eating disorders among women in college is 32.6%.
“In general eating disorders and diet culture isn’t talked about enough, which causes it to have a lot of stigma,” said Verma. “So through talking about it and learning about correct, proper information. I think that’s the first step to getting help for everybody that needs it.”
In 2019, UMD held a “Love Your Body” week to encourage body positivity, but the events they held were not engaging to college students, in Krenkel’s opinion. The group wants to bring the week back, but with updated events.
“We wanted to do different events that would kind of inspire open sharing and create a dialogue where people could talk about their experiences of body image and diet culture,” said Krenkel, a sophomore psychology major. “We were thinking we could do something with chalk. I’ve seen a lot of stuff on campus with that, where people could just write about their experiences, maybe a short quote or a couple words.”
In addition to their chalk idea, the group wants to invite a body positive influencer to speak on campus, and organize a collaborative mural about body positivity and diet culture at one of the diners. Their petition to have UMD host a Love Your Body week again can be signed here.
“I think that a lot of people could benefit from just starting a conversation by saying, Hey, I don’t feel incredible about my body, but neither do you. And that’s okay. Like we’re working on it,’” said Krenkel.