The pressure to be thin transcends the hook-up culture of the Jug. According to the “Reflections Body Program,” hosted by Delta Delta Delta (Tri Delta), 10 million American women are battling eating disorders and 54 percent of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat.
From Wednesday, September 30 to Wednesday, October 7, each member of Tri Delta participated in the “Reflections Body Image Program” by way of a grant secured by senior Carly Weil and junior Evelyn Koh.
The program consisted of two two-hour sessions led by members of the sorority trained to lead discussions about the “thin ideal.” This ideal is the expectation of every girl to be as thin as the models she sees in the media; the sisters gathered to try to find tangible solutions to overcome this flaw in social perception.
Instead of focusing on eating disorders, the “Reflections Program” dealt with combating negative body image perceptions by recognizing the idea of cognitive dissonance, or holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously.
“The program gets the girls to talk about [the costs of being thin] so while they are saying out loud all these things about why its stupid to pursue the thin ideal, it’s also working in their heads to change their belief,” Weil said.
The Reflections program has been implemented at 34 Tri Delta chapters at college campuses across America.
Colgate, as a small, liberal arts school faces its own challenges when it comes to body image issues.
“[Negative body image] is definitely something that girls struggle with at Colgate. Since we are such a secluded community, it gets perpetuated,” Weil said.
Besides pressure from other girls at Colgate to be thin, outside pressure from the media makes the “thin ideal,” which is not necessarily attainable, a seemingly important goal for girls.
Tri Delta plans to combat the pressures of the “thin ideal” by working together to promote Body Activism. This includes eliminating magazines with negative messages about body image from the sorority house and encouraging healthy discussions about body image beyond the “Reflections Program.”
The sorority hopes to extend the reach of the program beyond just Tri Delta. During the week of October 19, the sorority will be sponsoring “Fat Talk Free Week” in which they will encourage girls to make an effort to eliminate negative comments about their own weight and other girls’ weight.
Other events during “Fat Talk Free Week” will include a clothing drive specifically for those clothes that girls keep in the closet “just in case they lose five pounds.”
Weil is adamant about reaching more than just her sorority with the message of a positive body image.
“I think it’s a difficult thing at Colgate because its so ingrained in our hook-up culture that […] in order to get the guy and in order find your hook-up at the Jug you have to be thin,” Weil said.
Weil went on to stress that even though the pressure at Colgate is to be thin, there are also resources available to work through related issues. Colgate students concerned about eating disorders or their body image can utilize the counseling services at Conant House or the support group called Ophelia’s Place located in Liverpool, New York.