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Body Empowerment

For College Women, Triumphing Over Poor Body Image Starts with the Mind

Photo: Courtesy of Mikail Duran

College can feel like a battleground when it comes to body image. College women feel pressure to achieve a “perfect body” by following a clean diet, going to the gym and staying fit while battling the dreaded “Freshman 15” and criticism from their peers. They might feel judged for ordering a pizza to their dorm or having an extra drink on the weekends, and not waking up the next morning to run off the extra calories. They feel berated for being either “too fat” or “too skinny” and it can feel like it’s impossible to win. What does this type of mindset do to our self-image and perception? It creates a loathsome, unforgiving relationship with ourselves when we’re not meeting these unrealistic standards we’ve set.

We’re living in a society where self-care is of the utmost importance, which should include a positive mental mindset surrounding our bodies — this is often not the case. Instead of being our own cheerleaders, we’re often behaving as our own worst critics when we should be giving ourselves the pep talks we deserve! We slap on a face mask and scroll through Instagram, negatively comparing ourselves to this heavily edited and carefully curated feed of images of bodies that aren’t like ours. That’s a far cry from the truly meaningful self-care we need.

The power of body positivity should never be underestimated because it’s clear how devastatingly a negative mindset can impact self-image. Faking it until you make it is real, so positive affirmations and little celebrations on what we love about ourselves and our bodies are essential to loving who we are inside and out. If you’re running low on confidence, go somewhere you can be alone and practice some power stances. Look in the mirror and talk to yourself out loud. List three features of your body you love and why they make you feel good. There’s a reason why we love feedback and compliments from others—it’s amazing to feel validated and like you’re doing something right! So, why aren’t we seeking this positive affirmation from ourselves? Being your biggest fan rather than your harshest critic isn’t just empowering, it’s essential.

Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Editor-In-Chief of Her Campus, [email protected]

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