The body acceptance program is a program meant for women and girls attending UVU to learn about the “appearance ideal” and how to resist allowing it to alter how they see themselves and others. It is a four-week program, offered at least once a semester. Most often the interns of the Wellness Programs at UVU are the ones that lead it, meaning that people close to your age are the ones talking to you about real issues people face in everyday life.
During the program, you get to meet once a week, discuss the exercises you did at home, participate in discussions, and brainstorm together. Meeting in person allows for the girls participating to be vulnerable and enjoy a relaxed energy, even while talking about charged subjects. Jokes and laughter abounded during this semester’s program!
At the end of the in-person meetings, you will have an exercise or two to take home. Some of these exercises can be very challenging, and some easier. It depends on what you struggle with specifically. One exercise that stood out to the entire group was the exercise where you had to write down things you liked about yourself while standing in front of a mirror. Some people in the group said it was super hard, while others said they had fun. Another exercise was to implement a practice that helped you resist unrealistic body expectations, which was called the appearance ideal or beauty ideal. Keeping these goals in mind throughout the week but also after the program can drastically affect how you see yourself and your body.
One thing that the program taught is what the appearance ideal even is. That was one of the first topics of discussion, and the group concluded the appearance ideal is perpetuated by social media and sometimes even well-meaning family members; a set of standards that change as trends change; not healthy to maintain and can often be expensive to try and reach; unreachable by even the people we consider to be the prettiest, such as celebrities and influencers; and something we should try to deconstruct instead of attempting to achieve.
This appearance ideal is something that can prevent us from taking care of ourselves and accepting our bodies, so the program spent a fair amount of time deconstructing the idea that the appearance ideal was something that needed to be met.
Another practiced skill was positive self-talk. This can make a lot of people nervous or even make them feel like they are a little too confident, but these affirmations can help you feel more comfortable in your skin.
If you are struggling with body image or self-love, taking this program next semester is a great opportunity to practice a little bit more compassion and acceptance for yourself. Even while you are not in the program, try considering some of the questions asked at the program and journaling about them! You may be surprised to see what you learn.
Questions to journal about:
- What can you do to resist the appearance ideal in your life?
- How can you better talk about your body in a positive and affirming way?
- Write down ten things you love about your body and five general things that you love about yourself.