Posts Tagged ‘Body Image’

Episode 47: Body Image in Adolescents with Charlotte Markey

Dr. Charlotte Markey

Episode description: 

Charlotte Markey, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology and Health Sciences at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey. She has researched body image and eating behaviors for nearly 25 years, and is the author of The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless.

Charlotte joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to discuss adolescent body image. Offering research and practical insight into the multifaceted topic, she notes that body image encompasses far more than whether we like our bodies. She touches on its various dimensions and implications in the everyday lives of adolescents and teens.

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It’s Not Just Girls: Body Image in Boys and Men

A young boy sitting on a man's shoulders

Charlotte Markey, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology and a founding director of the Health Sciences Center at Rutgers University (Camden). She is the author of The Body Image Book for Girls, as well as a forthcoming companion book for boys.

While body image has typically been regarded as a female issue, body image concerns can affect people of all genders. Here, we chat with body image researcher, Charlotte Markey, Ph.D., about body image in boys and men.

Describe your interest in body image. 

My interest in body image dates back to my childhood experiences as a ballet dancer. The intense focus on your body when you are a dancer is unfortunate and really fueled my own body dissatisfaction.

It wasn’t until I was an undergraduate psychology major that I started to look at the scars from my years as a dancer. Intellectualizing these issues was (and is!) a great coping mechanism for me. I began doing research on body image and eating attitudes during my undergraduate years and continued to do so when I completed my Ph.D. in psychology. I love doing research and teaching as a professor, but I also really love to make the research accessible to more diverse, public audiences. This has led to my work on book projects, including my recent The Body Image Book for Girls and the forthcoming companion book for boys.

Why has body image traditionally been thought of as a “women’s issue”? 

Diet culture and the beauty industry have targeted women for decades. It has long been commonplace for girls and women to want to change their appearance—in terms of both their bodies and their faces. This is not the only reason, but it is one of the primary reasons why body dissatisfaction is normative and festers among girls and women. In contrast, “manly” men have historically been conceptualized as natural, unadorned, and uninterested in fashion or beauty.   

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Body Checking and Body Avoidance

A person checks appearance in the mirror

Eating disorders are often tied to a preoccupation with shape and weight. This preoccupation commonly manifests itself in distorted thoughts and beliefs, as well as in unusual behaviors around food and eating. Rigid food rules, denying hunger, hiding or stockpiling food, and eating in secret are among the key behavioral signs that may indicate the presence of an eating disorder.

Less-discussed behavioral signs are body checking and body avoidance. While these behaviors are not unique to eating disorders—and not experienced by everyone with an eating disorder—they are common in people with these illnesses. Checking involves the repeated checking of one’s shape or weight, and the other involves the complete avoidance of that behavior.

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Coping with Video Call Anxiety

A woman sitting on a couch with a laptop in her lap

What were “unprecedented times” in March are now a “new normal.” Many of us have taken our lives almost entirely to our screens, relying on video calls for everything from work meetings to happy hours to telehealth appointments. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to touch nearly every aspect of daily life.

Though now ubiquitous, video calls are still uncomfortable for many and downright distressing for others. Those who struggle with anxiety or body image disturbance may find themselves filled with worry, dread, or self-consciousness upon clicking “Accept” to such a call invitation. The idea or reality of being on camera can trigger distorted thoughts and urges to engage in disordered behaviors.

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Navigating Summer in Eating Disorder Recovery

A family picnic

Many travel and event plans have changed, but the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped summer from coming. It’s officially here—and with it, so are socially distant picnics, cookouts, and barbecues. For those struggling with eating disorders, summertime eating and dressing can be stressful and anxiety-provoking. Warm-weather celebrations often exacerbate worries about food and our bodies, making recovery challenging and complex. But it’s not impossible.

With a commitment to yourself and continued healing, you can maintain eating disorder recovery and participate in this season’s celebrations. Here are some tips for surviving summer with an eating disorder.

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The Danger of Talking about Lizzo’s and Adele’s Bodies

Lizzo and Adele

Love your body. Accept yourself. Feel good in your skin.

The body positivity community promotes self-love and self-acceptance. It encourages us to treat our bodies gently, with compassion and care, and to avoid criticizing, shaming, or punishing them for any perceived flaws. We define body positivity in many ways, but our definitions are often similar in the body they describe: our own. Our body image is the focus.

As we work to develop a positive body image, it is important that we practice extending the same respect, acceptance, and compassion to other bodies as well. This includes all bodies—the bodies of our friends and family members, of strangers, peers, and acquaintances, and of celebrities and public figures we’ll never see in everyday life. We need to see beyond these appearances and question the way we view and talk about them.

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