Sorority starts program to improve body image

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Delta Delta Delta sorority has begun implementing the first research-based eating disorder prevention program among its members this semester. With continued hard work, Tri-Delt members hope to soon offer the program campus-wide, said Alisha Lyon, sophomore in hotel and restaurant management and Tri-Delt member.

The program is called “Reflections” and is a peer-led intervention initiative aimed to help women improve their perceptions of body image and question the “thin ideal.”

“Eating disorders are so prevalent on college campuses, especially in Greek communities,” said Lyon, who is a certified trainer in the program. “[Reflections] is something that really needed to happen because … it’s an eating disorder prevention program, but it also serves as a way for our women to become more comfortable with themselves.”

Lyon said the program was started a few years ago by a Tri-Delt member of Trinity University, Carolyn Becker.

Becker began researching eating disorders in relation to cognitive dissonance – anxiety that results from simultaneously holding contradictory or otherwise incompatible attitudes, beliefs or ideas – and the program was soon created.

Lyon, who was trained directly by Becker last November, said “Reflections” since has been implemented on 22 college campuses across the United States.

During the training process, Lyon said participating women are asked a series questions about the desire to be thin. Lexi Schaible, sophomore in hotel and restaurant management, said when she went through the program, women were asked how they perceived the thin ideal, which she said is dictated by the mass media.

“It’s kind of like what the media tells us we’re supposed to look like, whether it’s being a certain weight, or having your hair a certain way or even things down to having your fingernails painted,” she said. “It’s really easy to get caught up in what you think you’re supposed to look like. I definitely think [‘Reflections’] helped all of us realize a little better that there isn’t some specific way we’re supposed to look, like the media says.”

Kathryn Brown, K-State psychology intern, said the media intensely increases people’s drive to be thin. She said college-aged women, as well as men, are constantly put into situations on campuses where they are figuring out “what it means to be a man or woman in this world.” The conclusion to this question, she said, can become skewed by the media and result in eating disorders.

“Often times, these behaviors start in high school and become exacerbated in college without any supervision,” she said.

Jessica Busey, who also is certified in the “Reflections” program, said she believes women beginning their college careers are “very vulnerable” to eating disorders.

“There’s a lot of need for acceptance and need to be wanted when they are not in their comfort zones of mom and dad anymore,” she said. “With all that, girls can become very self-conscious, and a lot of times, they look to the media for guidance.”

Busey, freshman in apparel and textile design, said eating problems often occur because of the many magazines, TV shows and music lyrics that tell women if they are thin and pretty, they will be accepted – something she said is completely false.

“You need to be focusing on yourself, not letting others perceive your ideal person,” she said, which is exactly what the “Reflections” program stresses.

Lyon said though the program has only been offered to Tri-Delt members thus far, she has already seen an improvement in her fellow member’s attitudes and hopes to soon offer “Reflections” through Lafene Health Center and K-State Counseling Services where it would be open to anyone on campus.

“We’ve seen changes in our members already with less ‘fat-talk’ and pictures of ideal women that they were looking up to coming down from walls,” she said. “Just the overall morale of the house has really gone up because of this program. The ultimate goal will be to spread this program to as many women on our campus as we possibly can … We just want to help as much as we can because it’s something we’re really passionate about and something we care so much about.”

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