By Katrina Burton, MD Anderson Staff Writer
Are you unhappy with your weight? Do you strongly dislike some other aspect of your appearance? Are recent changes to your body negatively affecting that way you feel and think about yourself?
Whether you've had body image issues most of your life or these problems are more recent, almost everyone at some point and time has concerns about their body. How we cope with these issues is what matters most. Negative body image can lead to low self-esteem, depression and a host of other psychological and social issues.
In recognition of Love Your Body Day, Wednesday, Oct. 19, MD Anderson is participating in the National Organization for Women (NOW) Foundation's Love Your Body Campaign. This campaign is part of a national program that encourages people to recognize the dangers of societial perceptions that promote unrealistic and unhealthy body images. The goal is to help people learn how to attain a more healthy and positive perspective about their bodies.
Today, Oct. 19, MD Anderson will offer interactive fitness demonstrations and free educational tips and materials about body image, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, in the Main Building, Floor 1, near The Aquarium.
"Society has placed a great deal of pressure on how a person should look and feel, "says Michelle Cororve-Fingeret, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of Behavioral Science and director of the Body Image Research and Therapy Service at MD Anderson. "These expectations not only affect healthy individuals in the general public, but people suffering from medical conditions that can significantly change the way they look and how their bodies function."
Fingeret knows too well the effect body image has on cancer patients. She has seen hundreds of patients through the Body Image Therapy Service. The program focuses on patients referred from MD Anderson's Center for Reconstructive Surgery and the Head and Neck Center - two centers where treatment can give patients significant body image issues. Patients are counseled on how to cope with and better accept the changes to their bodies during and after cancer treatment.
"All cancer patients face changes to their bodies," said Fingeret. "Addressing their emotional needs and assisting them with accepting body image changes is just as important as treating their illness and managing physical symptoms."
"We're proud to be a part of this campaign. We strongly believe the messages we're sending about the importance of developing a healthy body image is important for not only our patients and their families, but is also relevant to our employees," says Fingeret.
For more information about Love Your Body Day or the Body Image Therapy Program, call 713-563-8032.
Q&A: Body Image Therapy Service
Reclaiming Her Life: A Cancer Survivor Faces Body Image Issues
Body Image Issues for Cancer Patients (podcast)