Chief of Staff Terrence Kane is among the campus leaders featured in a U R > UR Reflection video. Participants completed the statement: "When I look in the mirror...”
Eating Awareness Committee holds mirror up to University
March 4, 2014Tweet
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Asked this question by the Eating Awareness Committee, members of the University community gave a variety of revealing responses, including the following:
“I see a work in progress.”
“I see a person who loves being a dad.”
“I see a rising entrepreneur.”
“I see strength, courage and kindness.”
“I see a great baker who will not be hindered by lactose intolerance.”
A video featuring these and other upbeat observations was part of a weeklong event to promote positive self-image on campus.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, about 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. To help combat this real-life issue, the Eating Awareness Committee (EAC) launched U R > UR Reflection, a campus-wide event to combat negative messages and stereotypes about students’ self-image, self-esteem and self-confidence. The event was held from Monday, Feb. 24, through Friday, Feb. 28, to coincide with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
“I think that there’s a fear that you’re going to sound arrogant if you say something good about yourself,” said Jessica Surdey, instructor in the Department of Health and Wellness Studies and lead organizer of the program. “What we’re trying to get across is, if you don’t say something good about yourself, who will? We’ve got to walk around knowing our strengths.”
The video featured more than 180 campus leaders completing the statement “When I look in the mirror…”, each one holding up a handmade sign with a positive response. Surdey hopes that students will see campus figures modeling a positive self-image and follow suit.
“By using faces from around campus, what we’re really trying to show is that, if people in leadership positions can demonstrate positive self-talk and positive self-esteem, then the people who look up to them are much more willing to do the same thing themselves,” she said.
Along with the video, program participants got to decorate a mirror with positive messages and take it home with them. Rachel Sommers, a senior who helped promote the event, said that students need to look beyond what they see in the mirror and instead focus on their inner worth.
“People constantly look at mirrors,” said Sommers. “It’s hard for people to look beyond at who they actually are and what they actually mean besides, for example, what their hair looks like. This is an eye-opener.”
The EAC and Residential Life staff hosted a video viewing, mirror crafting and discussion on body image simultaneously in multiple residence halls across campus on Feb. 25. The week’s events culminated with a showing of the video and mirror crafting in the West Gym Lobby.
According to Jennifer Wegmann, lecturer in the Department of Health and Wellness Studies, healthy self-image is all about accentuating the positive.
“We’re surrounded by so much negative. We tend to find the negative, the flaws, what’s wrong with ourselves. If we can flip that and start to focus on something positive, it can change the way that we think and feel.”
Jun Jeong ’14, a greeter at the week’s last event and self-described “body image advocate,” saw the program as a way to get students to perceive themselves in a better light, something which can lead to success in later life.
“Self-perception goes a long way in determining how successful a person is,” he said.
By promoting this and similar events, Surdey hopes that, like Jeong, all students can realize the importance of positive self-image and lead a healthy life after college.
“One of the greatest predictors of life-long health is high-efficacy and high self-esteem,” she said. “We don’t want people to just graduate with civic responsibility and environmental awareness. Graduating a healthy population is also very important.”