Though Dr. Juyeon Park has devoted much of her professional research to studying how humans use technology – focusing more on the human aspects than on designing the technology itself – she still didn’t anticipate the “Eureka!” moments and, sometimes, tears that came when young women truly saw themselves.
As participants in Dr. Park’s 3-D imaging project, the young women – freshmen at CSU – had avatars of themselves created from more than 400 data points. Then, their avatars were digitally dressed in different outfits and placed in various environments. And it turns out they looked… normal. Those shoulders she always thought were so huge? Nope, just regular shoulders. That swimsuit she avoided, seeing nothing but imperfection in her body? Actually, she looked good. She looked happy on the beach.
[Photo: Dr. Juyeon Park]
Dr. Park, a faculty member in the Colorado School of Public Health at CSU physical activity and healthy lifestyles concentration and an associate professor in CSU’s department of design and merchandising, has guided aspects of her research on how humans use technology toward body positivity. This has included not only the project with CSU students, but a partnership with the Bariatric Center of the Rockies in Fort Collins to work on body image with people who have had bariatric surgery.
“A lot of people who have negative body image tend to focus on ‘problem’ areas,” Dr. Park explained. “This research emphasized looking at the whole body. We’re seeing that body image is not always about the physical body.”