In today’s media-driven world, college students are bombarded with stereotypes of the “perfect” body style, and as such it can be difficult to foster a healthy self-image.
According to the website for Student Counseling Services at Illinois State University, “Current research suggests that males struggle with negative body image at levels equal to their female counterparts. The emphasis on muscularity and the physique promoted by culture and media poses a unique challenge.”
To help address this important issue, Student Counseling Services, along with Health Promotion and Wellness and the Department of Psychology, developed an initiative called The Body Project: More Than Muscles. The program involves two-hour workshops led by trained peer facilitators, who serve as leaders on campus “to champion positive messages about health and wellness.”
“This new program is designed to help challenge the cultural ideal and help students develop and maintain healthy body image,” the website adds.
To spread this mission of promoting body positivity and acceptance of diverse body sizes, More Than Muscles partnered with a team of student consultants from Illinois State University’s Innovation Consulting Community (ICC) for the 2020–2021 academic year. Dr. Suejung Han, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, was the coach for this particular ICC project.
Justin Hernandez, a senior business administration major, described how his ICC team was tasked with raising awareness and increasing participation in the More Than Muscles program.
“For the purpose of getting the attention of potential future participants in the program and providing information regarding the program, we developed a marketing video,” he explained. “I was personally invested in this project since I had struggled with issues with my own body image. Doing work for a program that has helped to combat these issues head-on was important to me.”
The student consultant particularly enjoyed the team’s brainstorming sessions and filming their final marketing video. In preparation for the latter part of the project, Illinois State marketing alum Luke Vernam ’15 met with the ICC team to discuss how he develops short, documentary-style content for a leading technology company.
Hernandez also noted the project was not without its challenges. As he recalled, “By being a part of this process, I learned that this issue was more difficult to tackle and address than I could have imagined. I had to explore my outside-of-the-box thinking to come up with solutions with my team.”
Both students and clients reap many benefits from participating in the ICC program.
“ICC is an important program since it gives clients an opportunity to utilize a new resource for developing solutions for their organization. It also provides students the opportunity to be innovative,” Hernandez said. “Working for a real-world client gives you an added sense of responsibility to perform well for the client. The stakes are much higher than that of doing school projects; you’re doing real work for people who are counting on you.”
Illinois State career advisor Mark Fauble agreed the ICC program is a valuable resource, and he encourages students from across campus to get involved with the extracurricular learning opportunity.
“If you want to set yourself apart in a really good way from other students, this is a wonderful way to do so,” Fauble said. “That you will have a team of professionals working with you to complete a true organizational goal is something that not many students can claim. The networking exposure, experience and satisfaction of completing a goal are just some of the things you will gain from being a part of ICC. You really need to check it out.”
Zoey Granitz and Trent Christensen also served as student consultants for the project.
If you are interested in supporting the Innovation Consulting Community, visit the ICC website. The ICC is open to all Illinois State University students.