Stress, debt and lack of sleep may be the most well-known student problems, but an upcoming series of workshops at Red River College look to shine a light on an issue equally damaging to students’ health: negative body image.

“It’s a big issue for women,” said Pamela Rosen, a counsellor at RRC’s Exchange District Campus. “In counselling, we see it come up a lot. We see it in men too.”

Pamela Rosen, a counsellor at Red River College, is one of the facilitators bringing the Body Image Improvement Workshops back to RRC’s Notre Dame and Exchange District Campuses on April 10 and 12. / LAUREL JOHANSON

Rosen is one of the facilitators of the Body Image Improvement Workshops that will again be taking place at RRC’s Notre Dame and Exchange District Campuses on April 10 and 12. The workshops are open to female and non-binary students struggling with feelings of dissatisfaction with their bodies and were previously held this past January.

“It’s a great opportunity for participants to come together,” said Rosen. “We do a lot of work with critically analyzing where images of the thin ideal come from, and who’s profiting from these images.”

The workshops were developed through an American program called the Body Project. According to its website, the Body Project is a “dissonance-based acceptance intervention designed to help high school and college-age women resist sociocultural pressure to conform to the thin ideal and reduce their pursuit of thinness.”

American facilitators from the Body Project visited Winnipeg last year and provided workshop training to Rosen and other RRC staff, including mental health coordinator Breanna Sawatzky of RRC’s Notre Dame Campus.

Sawatzky said negative body image for students can result in spending a lot of mental and physical energy trying to feel better and neglecting other areas of their life.

“That’s time and energy that could be spent on being more successful in school, developing better relationships, having fun, or taking care of themselves,” said Sawatzky. “It’s important for students to feel good about themselves so that they’ll have more of that energy and stamina to do the things that are really important.”

Both Sawatzky and Rosen said they encourage female and non-binary attendees to attend body positivity workshops as many times as they need and not just as a one-time deal.

“It’s almost like getting a yearly flu shot,” said Sawatzky. “It would actually be ideal for people who are dealing with body image issues to take a workshop like this even yearly. We need to build ourselves up to really withstand these pressures.”

RRC’s Body Image Improvement Workshops will run on Tuesday, April 10 from 4:15 to 7:30 p.m. at the Notre Dame Campus Diversity Centre (D208) and on Thursday, April 12 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. in room P312 at the Exchange District Campus.