I ♥ My Body: The Effects of Photographic Affirmations on Body Image in Women

“She craves attention, she praises an image, she prays to be sculpted by the sculptor…” sings 20 year-old Alessia Cara.  In a society dominated by social media, women, especially young girls, find it harder and harder not to be affected by the media’s portrayal of “the perfect and desirable body.”

As the “sculptor” of today’s media driven society leans toward “thinner” being what is more attractive, how do we encourage young women to accept themselves no matter how they look?

A few students at Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) recently conducted a study that could serve as the breakthrough to self-love and acceptance.

With the assistance of fellow peers and professors, MSMU seniors Khirsty Randles and Mariana Lopez Tadeo presented the discoveries from their “I ♥ my body: Investigating the Effect of Photographic Body Affirmations on Body Image” research project at the university’s annual Academic Symposium.

The purpose behind this study is to “assess the effectiveness of a positive body affirmation intervention designed to improve body image.”  This study challenged female MSMU students to write positive comments, or affirmations, about body parts that they were confident about and those that they were not so confident about.  Occasionally, the researchers still received negative affirmations from students.  What inspired Mariana Lopez to initiate this study was the fact that “since we’re attending an all women’s college, we often compare ourselves to other women. That’s part of why I wanted to do this.  Because this way, it allows you to affirm your body, even when you don’t like that body part.  We want to decrease body image discontent and increase body image itself in a positive manner.”

 

Khirsty Randals was led to this project after “experimenting with positive body affirmations from a spiritual aspect.  My friends and I just started saying positive things to ourselves to affirm ourselves, and we found that we started to feel better.”  When she realized that a professor was conducting a study on this, she thought to herself, “I could change something that I use from a spiritual aspect and improve it with science.”

Since this study is still in progress, there is no concrete evidence, but Khirsty hopes to scientifically prove that “positive body affirmations really can positively influence how you feel about yourself”.

“Women might feel oppressed in other settings and I feel like this is a way for them to see that they’re not the only ones that feel this way.  But in order to overcome that, we need to affirm our bodies.  One step at a time, but I think we can accomplish it,” shared Mariana Lopez.

Positive body affirmations also start by simply spreading the word.  The following picture was roaming around Facebook over the weekend and with simply one share accompanied by a user’s disapproving thoughts, another user responded as if with opened eyes, “You know, I didn’t see this picture that way but I definitely get what you mean now, and it’s true.”

 

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