Examining healthy body image at SMU
Do women at SMU have a healthy perspective on body image?
With beautiful, slender women strutting every pavement of the campus “catwalk,” it is easy to see why SMU has a reputation as a haven for gorgeous, sought-after women. College and social websites buzz with praise of the typical SMU goddess.
College Prowler, a website that ranks colleges on topics from academics to appearance, said SMU has “some of the most stunning and beautiful girls from all over the nation.”
Prowler goes on to say, “Most of the guys walk around campus with their jaws dragging on the ground, and some of them are even lucky enough to date a couple of SMU’s fine and
But what about those of us who are just regular plain Janes that don’t have a runway-ready body? Do women at SMU have a healthy view of body image?
The answer is certainly not as black and white as it may seem. Camille Kraeplin, head of the fashion media program, teaches a class where body image in the media is examined. She believes that while it is difficult to know whether women as a whole at SMU have a healthy perspective on body image, she does think that the women she works with today are more “media savvy” than ever before.
“Today’s young women know that the models in advertisements have been Photoshopped and manipulated,” Kraeplin said. However, she also admitted that “we can’t ignore it completely—we still are affected by the thin ideal. Where models were a size four years ago now they are a size zero. It is hard not to be affected by that.”
SMU fitness trainer Alex Vasile also agreed that body image has become harder to ignore. She described women as susceptible to “being uncomfortable in front of girls they consider fit or skinny,” especially at gyms where women may feel that their body is being scrutinized by others.
Similarly, Kraeplin believes that women are each other’s toughest critics. In fact, both Vasile and Kraeplin agreed that SMU has a strong image and culture surrounding a particular body type and look.
“Some girls are so concerned with fitting in and molding themselves to that image, that they become completely unhappy with themselves,” Vasile said. She lamented that the situation is unfortunate as “most of the time there isn’t anything wrong with them to begin with.”
SMU sophomore Jessica Douglass reinforced the idea that standards for women can be intimidating at SMU.
“Everyone is very skinny with long, luscious hair,” Douglass said. She also described how the women at SMU “dress up for class” and said, “everyone looks the same.”
Similarly, senior Karissa Jobman said that “a lot of people focus on being a small size and so it puts pressure on women to conform to that size…it’s just the culture at SMU.”
Kraeplin believes the Dallas fashion-forward culture definitely plays a role in the SMU “image,” as many of the women are trendy and from affluent, upper-middle class families. She affirms that these types of women are often shown to be “pushed harder by their families and therefore affected more by eating disorders and issues of body image.”
Kraeplin noted that by using one’s body and staying active, “you are much less likely to get caught up in the negative cycle of excessive exercising, binging, or other eating disorders.”
Vasile also stressed the importance of participating in an activity. “Group exercise and personal training are good options for those girls because you don’t have to be in front of everyone and are able to express your body image concerns to your trainer,” she said.
The SMU Recreational Sports and Spirit program will host the “Love Your Body” event Nov. 6 in Hughes-Trigg Ballroom A and B. Vasile encourages women and men struggling with body image issues to attend and hear the panel of speakers for the event.