Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Managing your body image through the holiday season

Sunday, November 6, 2022
Graphic by Kate Haussman

The holidays are known to be a time of great cheer, but when stress and discomfort of body image overpower the joy of the holidays, it can become hard to embrace the holiday spirit. SEMO’s newly founded Body Positive Alliance explains why holidays can be hard for some, and how to embrace self-love while indulging in holiday celebrations.

Holidays can be difficult for a number of reasons, one of which is feeling the need to overeat. To add insult to injury, some family members can be insensitive about the subject of weight, causing some people to not feel comfortable talking about their struggles with body positivity.

The newly established Body Positive Alliance gives students struggling with self-love a place to talk about negative thoughts or actions related to their bodies.

Club president and senior psychology major Katherine Hallman, along with senior psychology major Sierra Skinner, are the co-founders of Body Positive Alliance. The alliance began this fall and has hosted three monthly meetings so far, the next being on Dec. 1 at 8 p.m.

Hallman pointed out that being around a lot of food, especially at Thanksgiving, can be difficult for some.

Hallman said people who do not have a good relationship with food might feel overwhelmed by the sight of so much food on the table, and shameful if they are eating too much or not enough food.

A good way to fight the mind from negative thoughts which may arise during holiday dinners is to travel to a safe place in your mind. Hallman says having coping skills set in place for stressful times helps to distract people from what is going on.

During the club meeting, Hallman said some examples of coping skills could be saying positive affirmations or taking deep, settling breaths. A positive affirmation could be saying three good things about oneself.

Hallman said she has a hard time discussing body positivity, as well as other sensitive topics, with her parents. She said it has helped her to be confident and stand her ground when the topic arises to make sure they know how serious the subject is.

Even if your family isn’t supportive of your body image journey, Hallman said it’s helpful to have a support system that is.

“Find people that can help support you and then stay connected with them; to be able to have somebody that you can openly talk about your struggles with can really help support you,” Hallman said.

According to Hallman, body positivity means to accept oneself in all aspects: body shape and size, race and gender.

Junior applied technology major Carly Williams is on the executive board for the Body Positive Alliance, where she is the graphic designer for the club’s advertising. After a troubling experience with her parents, starving herself from food was the only coping mechanism she felt like she could offer herself.

“I believe body positivity should be something like, it doesn’t matter if you’re skinny or if you’re bigger, you should be able to look in the mirror and absolutely love what you see,” Williams said.

Williams said she wants the Body Positive Alliance to reach more people and to allow people who struggle with body image to have a safe place to share their experiences.

“This group is for men, women, non-binary [people] and anybody that wants to join,” Williams said. “I just would really love to see it grow [during] the time that it’s here [at] SEMO because I think it could really benefit so much,” Williams said.

Contact Katherine Hallman at kahallman1s@semo.edu to learn more about the Body Positivity Alliance at SEMO.

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