This thesis explores body image issues within college women and the pressures and influences that the college environment contributes to this condition. Through the comparison of 19th and 20th century literature, current pressures and influences were studied to depict the changes and fixations over time to find out how to move forward with this prevalent issue within college women. Using a qualitative approach, in-depth interviews and content analyses were conducted through a homogenous sample of three women, two at a small liberal arts college and one at a university. The informant’s responses laid out converging themes and patterns to analyze. The common trends contributing to body image issues that all three informants addressed were sorority pressures, the hook-up culture, gender roles and influences, social media influences, and the transition from high school to college. These three college women’s perspectives of the vulnerabilities that college contributes to women struggling with their image provided authentic data to compare to past literature about body image.
Although the social environment on college campuses concluded many negative pressures and influences to women, informants provided examples of steps being taken by larger foundations to spread awareness. Gradually, clothing and beauty brands are using social media platforms to promote body positivity of all different body types, which is a powerful step into creating change and acceptance. Conclusions will summarize ways that colleges can decrease social pressures towards women with body image struggles and applying it to bigger forces like the media.