How faith helps UH students build body positivity
Along their individual journeys to loving their bodies, students may struggle with their weight — hello, Freshman 15! — and body image. Striking a balance between keeping up in school and living a healthy lifestyle can be difficult. So, how do UH students do it?
Several University of Houston students were able to provide insight on how they’re overcoming their body insecurities through their faith.
Christian – Church of Christ
Broadcast journalism senior Gloria Walker believes Christianity is the teaching of unconditional love and acceptance of all people, which is what initially drew her to Christianity’s teachings.
“Growing up in the church has shaped who I am,” Walker said.
When it comes to body positivity, Walker says God creates everyone in His image while also making each individual unique in their own way.
“I’m very proud to be myself,” Walker said. “God made me unique.”
She believes that while everyone may have a bad day, it’s important to remember that “God created His followers in his image and that He doesn’t make mistakes,” Walker said.
After a near-death experience several years ago, electrical engineering junior Jack Thornton began studying Buddhism. Buddhism helps him achieve happiness in spite of suffering, he said.
Buddhism helps you “have a more positive outlook on negative things,” Thornton said. “Buddhism teaches that suffering is a result of some form of change.”
Thornton believes that individuals practicing Buddhism will take an introspective look at their lives and determine whether they’re releasing good or bad karma into the world around them. Then the individual will make the necessary changes to put good energy into the world and into themselves.
“Bodies change. One day you’re gonna grow old, and that’s just how things work. It’s bad karma to sit around and be lazy,” Thornton said.
When it comes to body positivity, Thornton said a Buddhist is more likely to accept themselves.
“At the end of the day, bodies change and that’s okay,” Thornton said. “A Buddhist who’s introspective would take a look at their lifestyle and say, ‘I’d prefer to eat healthy and be active’ because these are things that will make me happy, and as a result, you will gain a better body image.”
To architecture junior Tristan Durham, being Agnostic means believing in the existence of a higher power while also accepting that nothing can be known about the specifics of that power.
“It’s more about being spiritual than being a part of an organized religion,” Durham said. “I chose to be Agnostic because that’s what felt right to me. It’s kind of the path to the least resistance.”
Durham doesn’t believe Agnosticism and body image intersect.
“I think (dealing with body image is) something that has to come from you and is more informed by your state of mind. However, the more I think about my Agnosticism, the more comfortable I feel just existing and interacting with others, and I think that definitely impacts how I feel about my body,” Durham said.