Support group to help students with body image issues

Brueggemann Marlene

College students who are insecure about their body are no longer alone.

Western’s counseling and testing center is offering a new body image support group.

Betsy Pierce, a staff psychologist at Western’s counseling and testing center who leads the group, said she noticed an increase in body image problems with students who came to the counseling center.

“I think [the support group] is certainly needed,” she said.

The focus of the group is student’s self perception. Pierce said that discussing one’s body image may lead to the discovery of an eating disorder.

The support group is for both women and men who have any issues with their body image.

The group is here to help people know that they are not alone with their problems and to provide information so they can have a healthier body image, Pierce said.

“We try to move from a distorted picture to a reality based picture of who we are,” Pierce said. “The ultimate goal is to be happy with what we look like.”

Pierce tried to start the group last semester. Several meetings were held, but attendance dropped. Despite advertising for the group this semester, no one showed up for the first meeting on Jan. 31.

Meetings are on Fridays at 3 p.m. at the Counseling and Testing Center.

Pierce said there are several reasons for the low attendance.

First of all, she said, some people have problems admitting that they have body image issues. They are often uncomfortable talking with strangers about their concerns.

Since eating disorders are a sensitive subject, Pierce said students who go to the counseling center would have confidentiality. Those who would attend the support group sessions would use only their first names.

Being on a college campus also makes it difficult to find a time between classes and activities when people are available to come, Pierce said.

Nashville freshman Rachel Pomeroy also said students are more inclined to talk to those they are close to that support them instead of going to a support group of strangers.

But Pierce has not given up on reaching out to students. Later this month as part of the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week — the week of Feb. 23 — the counseling and testing center will set up a table at Downing University Center where students can be screened.

A one-page questionnaire will be given that will indicate if there are any problems with body images or eating disorders.

Pierce said she hopes this will further advertise the group and raise awareness among students.

Many students agreed that body image problems exist.

“It’s a world that is strong in sex and image,” Louisville junior Marshall Katz said. “Everybody wants to fit that.”

Reach Marlene Brueggemann at [email protected]