“I had a crappy morning that day and as soon as our session started my entire day turned around in minutes,” said Lauren Green, an educational peer leader for The Body Project and Wellness Center Social Work Intern.
The Body Project is a new initiative started by the Wellness Center at the University of Wyoming to challenge women on campus to engage in difficult conversations that surround societal expectations of body image. Through peer led conversations, during two, two hour sessions, women have the opportunity to begin forging healthy mindsets around their body, but also skills to positively impact the dynamic of the appearance ideal.
“I was actually approached by a professor in the psychology department who is really an expert in this area,” said Lena Newlin, The Wellness Center. “He really advocated for having this program on our campus because we do have students who struggle with eating disorders,” she continued.
Newlin also went on to explain that this is a researched based program that piqued her interest to host it at the Wellness Center.
“While this is a research based eating disorder program, it is an educational program that promotes body image,” Newlin explained. Women, whether or not they have an eating disorder or challenges related to body image, can really benefit from this.”
The Body Project began last month with a weekend long training to teach peer leaders ways to facilitate these conversations among students. Although The Body Project is in its infant stages, it does not denote the impact and progress the program has already made, not only on female students, but leaders of the program as well.
“My favorite ‘breakthrough’ moment with the Body Project was when we got the chance to speak about how we are personally impacted by the appearance ideal,” said Hanna Danielson, a peer leader and Wellness Center Assistant. “What I saw was ten women in a room all being honest with themselves and with this issue we’re all faced with. After this point, it was like revelation after revelation was happening which inspired everyone toward a positive change for themselves and the community around them,” she continued.
Green has also found herself to have her own experience with a ‘breakthrough’ moment during her first session.
“Being able to come together with women I may have seen around campus in a safe space say that each and every one of us has felt like we weren’t good enough at one point in our life unites us,” Green remarked. “After these sessions, I feel empowered again and more in touch with my body. I love that this program can bond women in that way.”
With breakthrough moments such as these, it makes Green and Danielson grateful that they took the initiative to take on this leadership role.
“I became interested in becoming a peer leader as a way to become a source of strength and other women on campus who want to make a change in their relationship with body image,” Danielson explained.
Green also went on to explain her interest in the program by relating the concept of body image to what women are surrounded with, in terms of societal expectations of body image.
“When I first heard about The Body Project, I knew I had to do the training because there was finally a program that brought women together about body image,” Green commented. “Growing up, most girls go through self-doubt and body image issues alone not realizing that so many girls feel the same way.”
Newlin also encouraged the importance of registering for these sessions and that The Body Project is not a support group or eating disorder treatment program.
“This topic is real for all of us and whether you come out of the program feeling stronger for yourself or stronger for others, you will be forever changed by it,” Danielson said in closing.
To get involved with The Body Project, sign up is available for sessions throughout the spring semester on Wednesday, March 1st and 8th from 5-7 p.m.; Saturday, March 25th and April 1st from 1-3 p.m.; Monday, April 3rd and 10th from 5-7 p.m., and Friday, April 21st and 28th from 2-4 p.m.
“People do need to register for the program, which is two, two hour sessions,” said Newlin. “It’s also important to remember that The Body Project is not a support group or eating disorder treatment program.”
To register, contact the Wellness Center by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at (307) 766-WELL. Interested students can also stop by the Wellness Center, located on the southwest side of Half Acre Gym, Monday-Friday between 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.