UT Body Project aims to build self-confidence

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Photo Credit: Barbra Daly | Daily Texan Staff

By writing positive letters to themselves and role-playing possible scenarios, campus mental health care providers hope to help female students improve their own body images through a
University program.

The Longhorn Wellness Center and Counseling and Mental Health Center will host the Body Project to help students resist cultural pressures to conform to beauty standards, according to the CMHC website. The program consists of two small groups of female students who participate in discussion sessions with a peer educator. The two groups will meet four times throughout the semester starting Oct. 30 and 31, and this is the second semester the University has participated in the program, according to the CMHC website.

Students write a letter to their younger selves and participate in role-playing scenarios to learn how to respond to body-shaming comments, said Kelsey Lammy, mental health promotion coordinator for the Counseling and Mental Health Center. 

“Writing a letter to a younger self … shows a lot of self-compassion, which is the notion of treating yourself like you would treat a best friend or a loved one,” Lammy said. “Writing a letter to a younger self helps you nurture that younger you.”

 

Business freshman Juliana Estrada-Arias said she is thinking about participating and said she would tell her younger self to stop comparing herself to other people she sees on social media. 

“When you’re writing a letter to your younger self, it is with positivity, and it can then help translate that positivity into the present,” Estrada-Arias said.

Lammy said being able to practice positive conversations in a safe place can make it easier to bring positivity into everyday conversations. She said the Body Project aims to create a culture of care on campus.

“Even one person matters,” government freshman Ben Romero said. “It is like an infection of happiness. If your words can make even one person look in the mirror and feel beautiful, eventually, it’ll reach more and more people just by one person.”

Romero said he struggled with body weight issues, and role-playing would help others struggling with similar image issues improve their self-confidence. 

“(Role-playing) makes people be able to have supportive, uplifting-like comments,” Romero said. “Oftentimes, someone’s like ‘Oh, I look so bad in the skirt today.’ And sometimes, I don’t know what to say to them. So, it’s a really good practice for promoting body positivity.”