450 Body Image and Values

Research by Alleva, Jessica; Medoch, Melissa; Priestly, Kira; Philippi, Johanna; Hamaekers, Jolien; Salvino, Eva; Humblet, Sanne; Custers, Marieke (2020). “I appreciate your body, because…” does promoting positive body image to a friend affect one’s own positive body image?Body Image,36, 134-138. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.11.002

Written by Robin N. Fatovic M.S.

Can expressing appreciation and love to a friend change the way you view yourself?

Researchers studying how writing letters to friends can impact their own body image, instructed 150 college women to write a letter to a close friend. Half wrote appreciations about their “body functionality,” or everything that the body is able to do(like keeping them alive and functioning), rather than how the friend’s body looks. The letters were not to include anything about their friend’s appearances. The other half wrote about their favorite memories with their friends.

Results? Although the researchers believed that only women in the group who wrote about their friends’ bodies would show improvements in their own body satisfaction, the women in both groups did! People can appreciate their bodies as providing more than appearance when they consider all the amazing functions they serve. Also, the women who wrote letters about fun memories switched their focus from their own physical appearance to important values in their lives, such as friendship and enjoyment. If you feel down about the way you look, focus less on your appearance and more on the things that you value in your life, like health or friendship!

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