Graphic by Nate Barton
Student leaders are leading groups of five to fifteen girls in two separate two-hour sessions discussing body image and the “thin ideal” as part of The Body Project. Meetings began Monday Sept. 26 and will continue through Tuesday Oct. 11.
“It’s basically a small group of women that get together twice, two weeks in a row just for two hour sessions,” senior Leah Thomsen said. “We talk through the issues with body image in today’s society and break down why it’s not worth trying to pursue those ideals and excepting your own body for what it is.”
Thomsen became involved with the group after Associate Professor of Psychology Jennifer Harriger reached out to her last year.
“It started last year,” Thomsen said. “Dr. Harriger in the psychology department brought it here. It’s a global thing. It started off in the south in sorority systems and they moved it to more of the broad spectrum for all females.”
At the first meeting, the women begin by making a list of what they consider to be the perfect woman.
“We start out by making a big list of like 100 adjectives that describe what the perfect woman is today,” Thomsen said. “It’s all inclusive of both things you see and personality traits. Talking about what is the perfect woman and you look at this list of 100 adjectives , and it is so unrealistic. It is impossible for anyone to meet all of these. Then you look over these and are like what is the cost of pursuing each of things, and like what are you taking out of your life when you are trying to become this perfect woman.”
At each session, student leaders, like senior Madeline Wick, guide discussions and activities about body image.
“Leaders have a script that we go off of, and we read that,” Wick said. “We read and there is also various activities that we do, like we’ll define the thin ideal. People share ideas of how they can combat the thin ideal.”
Junior, Madeline Luedke, said she took concepts from the program and applied them to her own life.
“My boss was making a comment about her size or something in a joking manner, and I just said ‘You can say what you want, but I don’t want that to be around me. I don’t like the focus to be on size or weight,’” Luedke said. “So now in the workplace, whenever I’m around they make sure not to make those comments. I just feel like it’s so negative.”
Thomsen said she hopes more girls sign up for the program.
“Just do it,” Thomsen said. “It’s four hours of your life, and I can honestly say it has been the most influential part of my experience at Pepperdine. It has been the most transformative thing that I have been a part of. It’s just four hours and honestly you change the way you think about your entire being, and it changes your entire outlook on life. Just do it.”