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St. Louis artists, psychologist reflect on body image, social media

Dail Chambers, Jenna Budreau and Marissa Southards discussed how body image is influenced by social media on Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air.”
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
Dail Chambers, Jenna Budreau and Marissa Southards discussed how body image is influenced by social media on Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air.”";s:3:

As social media becomes increasingly pervasive in our society, so does the notion that our bodies are not what they should be. While such platforms are only one factor that influences body image, a study by Common Sense Media found that more than one in four teens on social media stress about how they look when they post a picture online. 

“It’s not just the celebrities that we’re seeing in the media, on TV, in the magazines. It’s now your next door neighbor, your friends at school,” Jenna Budreau said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “There is so much more pressure to look good, and there’s different ways to go about doing it now that just didn’t exist when I was in middle school.”

Budreau, a clinical psychologist at Mind/Body/Soul Holistic Psychological Services, joined host Don Marsh along with Dail Chambers and Marissa Southards for a discussion about body image amid social media messaging.

Southards, the creator of The Awakenings Project, said, “When we scroll through social media … we see all these influencers … and it’s really presenting a body image that may not be realistic for the average Midwestern girl.” Her project is focused on empowering women and female-identifying individuals through body-positive photo shoots, from which pictures are shared via social media.

“What happens is that there’s this amazing sense of support, there’s a community that’s being built out of The Awakenings Project, where we’re actively committing to lifting each other up and being there instead of tearing each other down,” Southards explained.

Chambers is the founder of Yeyo Arts Collective, which dedicates itself to women’s art and topics surrounding women’s issues. In response to a question from Marsh about why body-image issues are primarily associated with women, Chambers said, “We have such a strong consumer pull, so as soon as we begin to purchase and buy into it, then the powers that be tell us, ‘Oh, [you’re] not good enough,’ to ultimately get more money out of us.”

However, Chambers added, “The great thing about consumerism is that it has to pull off the energy of the people who are supplying the consumerist practices, so the more that we as people who have all body types begin to go out into the world and speak our truth, as well as purchase related to what our needs are, that’s going to make a shift for the general companies out giving these advertisements and sending the messages.”

Chambers’ organization is active in engaging youth and families through a variety of programming.

“We really focus around self-awareness and personal development in a way that is unique because we’re not responding to necessarily outside influences as much as we’re responding to ‘what is it inside of us that’s making us feel this way,’” she said.

Offering advice to those struggling internally with their bodies, Chambers said to speak positive affirmations and practice visualization among loved ones.

“These things might seem hokey when we read them on the internet and hear them from our life coaches and things, but they make a world of difference.”

Listen to the full conversation:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Caitlin Lally is thrilled to join St. Louis Public Radio as the summer production intern for "St. Louis on the Air." With a bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Caitlin also freelances for area publications like Sauce Magazine and the Belleville News-Democrat. In her career, she's covered topics such as Trump's travel ban, political protests and community activism. When she's not producing audio segments or transcribing interviews, Caitlin enjoys practicing yoga, seeing live music, and cooking plant-based meals.

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