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Saturday 10 December 2011

Body dissatisfaction

An interesting point raised by Carolyn Becker.  She is a great proponent of the body image programme, of which I have been faintly sniffy and dismissive.  However, something she said has really stuck a chord.

The body image programme is not specifically designed to "prevent" eating disorders. Hopefully, that would be a by-product.  It is intended to promote a positive body image and spread the whole different horses for courses, rather than androgynous stereotypes.  This is not a bad thing, per se, as long as any trumpet callings about prevention are left to one side, rather than placed centre stage.  Anything that helps build self-esteem and is, essentially, a kind act is fine and dandy, in my book.  However, there are lots of people trying to debunk this "positive body image" programme from an entirely different angle.

People are trying to debunk it by saying that a negative body image is a "good" way to combat the media, sorry....I meant to say the "obesity crisis".  Now that to me, is really screwed up.


  1. If Carolyn Becker is now stating that her programme with Eric Stice is not designed to prevent eating disorders, then why do her publications (listed at the end of her profile page at her university) have such titles as: "Eating Disorder Prevention: Mounting Support for Dissonance-Based Interventions, Prevention Science (with E. Stice, H. Shaw, and P. Rohde), 2008."???

    Sorry, but I have little time for these programmes, as I hinted politely in my recent blog post on 'Prevention of EDs'. I do wonder whether such programmes are drawing attention to issues that young people might not even think about were it not for people like her, Stice, Cash (etc. etc.) harping on about 'body image'.

    To have concerns about physical appearance is NORMAL human behaviour. EDs are not normal human behaviours. I feel that these researchers, despite being well meaning, are pathologising normal behaviour.

    I will remain sniffy and dismissive.

  2. Extralongtail

    I think what floored me was the counter argument that we should dismiss all body image dissatisfaction on the grounds that people should be unhappy about their shape and size - we may thus solve the "obesity epidemic". That shocked me more than the endless rambling of prevention.

    To be fair we will never know if her projects do prevent an eating disorder. I don't agree with it, per se, as I think this is not particularly scientific. However, I think lower people's expectations of looking perfect is not necessarily a bad thing, especially amongst a vulnerable age group.

    Now I sound like I am defending the whole madcap world of "prevention". I am not. I am saying that the project, once the whole prevention thing is removed, is a good thing.