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MMC Psychology Faculty Present at Body Positivity Lecture Series

On July 13, 2021, Associate Professors of Psychology Nava Silton, Ph.D., and Sarah L. Weinberger-Litman, Ph.D., participated as speakers in the “Post-Pandemic Life: Learning Lessons from Covid about Community” lecture series hosted by I Was Supposed To Have A Baby (IWSTHAB), a nonprofit organization that supports Jewish individuals and families struggling to have a baby.

As the second part of the lecture series, Dr. Silton and Dr. Weinberger-Litman were two of four speakers that discussed specific issues surrounding mental health, physical health, disabilities, and the challenges that individuals with chronic conditions may collectively face while reentering post-COVID society.

“The pandemic has been a particularly challenging time for individuals with disabilities,” says Dr. Silton, whose Ethical Issues Concerning the Developing Child course and NYC Seminar both include substantial sections on disability studies. “I spoke about the challenge of wearing masks for those who have sensory issues, breathing issues, and for those who are hard of hearing and rely on lip-reading. I also discussed the challenges of Zoom and others forms of telehealth for those with hearing, visual, and/or cognitive challenges. Most importantly, I suggested that we should not return to pre-COVID standards, but should be strategic in making life even more accommodating for individuals with disabilities.”

Dr. Weinberger-Litman, who has recently published articles observing the relationship between spirituality and eating disorders and how the pandemic affects religious groups, spoke on the challenges related to weight and body image both among the general population and with those with eating disorders.

“As a health psychologist, all my coursework relates to how psychosocial influences impact our psychological and physical health,” says Dr. Weinberger-Litman. “Particularly during COVID, what we call the ‘social determinants of health’ have been hugely influential in terms of who gets sick, who can access health care, and who is more likely to be hospitalized or experience severe illness or death. The courses I teach in health psychology and women’s health both have sections devoted to body image, eating disorders, intuitive eating, the health-at-every-size paradigm, and the dangers of fatphobia.”

Both Dr. Silton and Dr. Weinberger-Litman extend the lessons explored in their lectures to the MMC community, noting the presence of body image issues in college environments.

“It is so critical for college students to maintain a body-positive attitude, especially in a world that is so obsessed with body shape and size,” says Dr. Silton. “It’s what’s on the inside that truly has the capacity to make people shine.”

Dr. Weinberger-Litman describes that promoting positive body image, preventing disordered eating, and combating fatphobia should be an institutional mission.

“How can we be an ally to people whose bodies don’t conform to unhealthful societal norms and promote media literacy with regard to the unhealthful messages and misinformation continually presented by social media?” asks Dr. Weinberger-Litman. “These are difficult questions to answer which require multilevel approaches involving, faculty, administration, students, and wellness services—questions that my colleagues and I are actively working on!”

If you are interested in listening to Dr. Silton’s and Dr. Weinberger-Litman’s lectures, a recap of the event is available on YouTube and on I Was Supposed To Have A Baby’s website.

If you or anyone you know are in need of assistance with psychological and personal wellness, MMC’s Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC) offers free short-term individual counseling, medication consultation and management, wellness programs, and referrals for treatment in the community. Contact the center at or make an appointment here.

Published: July 20, 2021