Women discuss their experiences with body image and seek ways to promote positivity

In Campus News, News
Jordan Morales, facilitator for the Cal State Fullerton WoMen’s Center’s Para Mujeres discussion group, showed her audience how mainstream media and advertising plays with women’s insecurities by distorting models’ bodies with photo manipulation.
(Katie Albertson / Daily Titan)

Students talked about body positivity and self-love Tuesday evening at Para Mujeres, a weekly Latina-focused discussion group hosted by the Cal State Fullerton WoMen’s Center.

The session of Para Mujeres — Spanish for “for women” — allowed women to speak freely about their body image experiences with the goal of teaching others that all bodies are good bodies.

Jordan Morales, Para Mujeres facilitator, showed a short video to the audience explaining the body-positive movement. People in the video were asked to define a “plus-size body” and a “normal body.”

Members of the audience were then asked to name celebrities they considered as having the perfect, ideal body. Some names that came up were Eva Mendes, Salma Hayek and Selena Quintanilla.

Morales shared her difficulties finding clothes that fit at popular department stores.

Seminar attendee Alexa Hayes, criminal justice major, shared the same experience.

The biggest issue is finding jeans and shirts that fit, Hayes said.

“The important thing is that when you look at body positivity, it’s finding a way to love everything about you and loving everything about other people,” Morales said.

Shaqreua George, sociology major, said it is hard for her to maintain a positive body image, but that those who do not feel confident shouldn’t feel at fault.

Passive messages from the mainstream media affect self-image, such as the way Disney princesses are portrayed. They are petite, white, thin, blonde and have blue eyes, she said.

“You grow up being told all the time that ‘This is what’s pretty,’” George said.

Students shared that even though they felt happy with their body, they still tried to change it to please others.

“At the end of the day, I’m not even losing weight for myself. I’m literally doing it for other people.” George said. “I’m happy with myself. I like the way I look.”

In order to really love yourself, it is important to realize if you are changing for yourself or if you changing for others, Morales said.

Hayes shared her experience of having curly hair, saying that she felt ashamed of it because of the criticism she received from other people.

“I would always judge myself based on what other people thought, even though I actually like my hair,” she said.

Morales provided attendees tips on how to learn how to love the skin then live in. She suggested that they compliment themselves, wear something that makes them feel sexy and confident, not play down compliments and spread self-love by complimenting others.

Morales also advised members of the group to acknowledge the goals they accomplished no matter how small, stop comparing themselves to magazine ads and find activities that make them feel good.

Members of the audience then shared positive activities, such as hanging out with friends, listening to music and dancing.

“If enough of us, as people, are able to remain positive on a day-to-day basis, the positivity will spread,” Morales said. “Happiness is super contagious.”

Para Mujeres meets Tuesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Wakeman Seminar Room in University Hall room 205.

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