By Robert McMullen, Webster University adjunct professor As I was reviewing my Keystone class…
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Ampersand editors respond to “Thinking positive won’t end body image concerns”
Co-Editor-in-Chiefs Macy Salama and Allison Klinghammer respond to Madeline Owen’s letter to the editor in response to the story “Under Pressure” in The Ampersand student magazine.
Firstly, we want to thank you for picking up our magazine and caring enough to write about it. We purposely picked topics like body image and cultural appropriation because they are deeply personal and affect students on this campus.
We chose to feature our story on body image, “Under Pressure,” on the cover because it is an issue close to our hearts. The story is actually the same length as our cultural appropriation feature, which both clock in at three pages (“Under Pressure” is actually slightly longer, but just barely.)
Since the Ampersand’s budget has been reduced, we’re down to only 40 pages for each issue of the magazine. Unfortunately, in order to keep every section, we had to cut the amount of space for our features – features are only eight pages of the entire magazine. It’s hard to go in depth on subjects when the maximum amount of space we can realistically allot a story is three pages.
That said, we believe our writer did an excellent job exploring the topic of body image and how it affects Webster students. The writer included three students, not two, and a professor from this campus in the article, each with a different perspective on body image. The students gave their own personal stories on how they deal with societal pressure and staying positive about their bodies. Though one of the students said he decided to change his lifestyle, that was his response to his specific body image issues. We would never want to imply that changing one’s body is the only solution for everyone. We don’t feel that the article did this in any way, but we apologize if that is the way it came across.
The other two students represented in the article offered up different ideas for dealing with body image issues, like attending support groups and surrounding yourself with positive people. There are many different ways one can improve their image of their bodies and feel good about themselves, but these are the pieces of advice our students gave to us, and so that is what we published.
We want to again emphasize that none of these options are specifically endorsed by Ampersand, but are instead the thoughts and feelings of the students we interviewed. We are well aware that this is a complicated topic, and that “just being positive” would not be a realistic solution.
We completely agree that the idea that our value is based on our bodies is dangerous and oppressing – it is also often reinforced by the media. As a media outlet, we are trying to change that by featuring stories like “Under Pressure” that showcase all kinds of bodies and discuss how difficult it can be to conform to society’s ideals.
We hope this letter clears up the intention of the article – that each person has a unique relationship with their body and we were simply explaining how several Webster students were able to work on being more positive about their bodies.
After all, what’s wrong with a little positivity in a society so hell-bent on breaking us down about ourselves?