Motivation and emotion/Book/2019/Body image flexibility

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Body image flexibility:
What is BIF, what are its effects on well-being, and how can it be developed?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Focus questions
  1. What is body image flexibility?
  2. What effects does body image flexibility have on well-being?
  3. How can body image flexibility be used in treatment?
  4. What theories involving body image flexibility help in treatment of psychological disorders?

Body image flexibility[edit | edit source]

Figure 1. Body image is how someone sees themselves

Body image flexibility is emotional adaptation to body dissatisfaction with an increasingly researched and a major focus in relation to eating disorder studies and treatment. Body image flexibility is by definition, is to still have experienced body dissatisfaction while having constant positive well-being behaviours, a lower body image flexibility and a high rating of body dissatisfaction is associated with problems with well-being and eating habitats (Mary L. Hill, 2013).

Body image flexibility is how body image impacts us compared to the thoughts experienced.

Body image flexibility along with day-to-day factors such as social media, advertisements and the ideal body images for men and women affects well-being and body acceptance for a healthy body image and lifestyle. Body image flexibility has often been seen in cases of eating disorders and others disorders such as depression. Eating disorders have an almost direct link to issues with balanced body image flexibility and body dissatisfaction ranges. Often seen as a protective measure and also leading signs of eating disorders and problem eating habits associated at different levels. (Mary L. hill, 2013)

As a protective attribute, Body Image flexibility is an adaptation regarding the development of body dissatisfaction and problem eating leading to eating disorders. It’s an ability to experience these factors to start more consistent behaviours. Consistent behaviours and the regulation of negative eating habits and factors such as body dissatisfaction are part of the treatment of problem eating and disorders. Body image flexibility is used to adapt these regulative behaviours and values, while internal negativity and body dissatisfaction still has an effect, a high body image flexibility allows for healthy behaviours and values to take hold. (Emily K. Sandoz, 2013) The response to the negative internal experiences, is how body image flexibility has either high or low levels, high levels of flexibility relates to the regulatory behaviours and values engaging as a protective factor to correct these feelings and thoughts. A low level of flexibility or inflexibility, is the lack of these values and response to those feelings and rather than reacting with healthy values and behaviour, can result in eating problems as a start and continuation of negative body image and body dissatisfaction. Treatments using body image flexibility have shown results in the decrease of eating disorders and associated behaviours with problem eating such as binge eating[factual?].  Acceptance and commitment therapy and body image flexibility research have made promising process in the treatment of eating disorders.

Factors effecting body image and its flexibility[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

Social Media influences[edit | edit source]

  • Social Media has always had an influence on the body image representations of the ideal body for both women and men. The influences of social media effect factors such as body satisfaction and self-esteem particular in adolescence as the advertisements for weight-loss products and influence from celebrity deals and names to promote items for weight-loss and highlighting the ideal body image and type. (Clay, 2005) With the easy to assess[say what?] and the mass media types that encourage the ideal bodies, there's social media at every turn and they all have a messages on how to and why you should lose weight and which body you should have. The importance of beauty and appearance are some for the most targeted advertising and shown parts of media with models often completely out of normal average for healthy weight. Airbrushing and perfecting the images of models to have the perfect look have only shown an unrealistic body and despite knowing this, people are still effected[grammar?] and wanting to change to match. This goes back to the importance humans have on social acceptance, self-worth and self-esteem as a need to belonging is inside everyone.
Figure 2. Body image and body dissatisfaction in a physical understanding

Appearance and body image is such an important factor to teen girls specifically, in the focus of the media with an emphasis on presenting females with unrealistic body's and beauty. With media's constant use of the perfect body or ideal body, body dissatisfaction and a negative body image starts "early to children" (Dittmar, 2009) as children's dolls both for girls and boys show a certain body type. Girl's dolls such as barbie and boy's action figures show a thin body with perfect proportions and the media's use of perfect body types and expectations for both girls and boys have a noticeable effect on body image and leads to body dissatisfaction.

Body dissatisfaction[edit | edit source]

The experience of negative thoughts and esteem about one's body (Dittmar, 2009)[grammar?]. These negative thoughts and feelings about body image and appearance is a major contributor to mental health problems and low self-esteem. Body Dissatisfaction has a major role in our lives and an even more noticeable part of teens and young adults as self-esteem is known for being low and body dissatisfaction being high. Socio-cultural influences have a large role in terms of peer pressure and media to idealise the correct body and appearance.

A negative body image is such as prominent factor of body dissatisfaction and leads to associated disorders with eating, depression and other mental health problems (Mary L. Hill, 2013) In particular, eating disorders often seen as a major aspect and an predictor of developing eating disorders and dieting. while body dissatisfaction is common in females and can lead to problem eating, it's not always the case

Self - Esteem[edit | edit source]

Self- Esteem is an attitude to self, whether it is positive or negative and is seen to have a key role in psychological well-being. As need of human[grammar?] to have self-esteem and the importance shown in how it affects us and highlighting the importance of society places on appearance and beauty

"Women's self-esteem is moderately, but significantly, lower than men"s) (Daniel Clay, 2005) and has a peak period around the adolescence years shown greatly in females during this time marking the changes of puberty and social influences. Boys also show a negative outlook on self-esteem during this time, reported for a shorter time and less significant. Self-worth and self-esteem are are joined in such as way that "perceived appearance consistently emerges as the strongest single predictor of self-esteem among both male and female adolescents." (Daniel Clay, 2005)

Marketing and media have a large impact on girls during adolescence with unrealistic body ideals affects them from early teens on to young adults and well into adulthood. With more than 70% of female teens believing media representations show their perfect body and half of this study[factual?] participants wanting to lose weight to achieve it. Self-esteem hits an all time high[say what?] during adolescence with media pressure with "prefect" representations being shown everywhere and anywhere. (Daniel Clay, 2005)

Treatment applications[edit | edit source]

In the clinical environment, Body image flexibility has a more protective role and has been using to understand and treat eating disorders and body image. Body image flexibility is an emotional adaption to cope with body image and body dissatisfaction, with flexibility having ranges from high to low.

Treatment of eating disorders and disorders associated with a body image dissatisfaction include many different therapy options and body image flexibility seen to have a direct relationship with these disorders.

Case study 1: BI-AAQ[edit | edit source]

This case study refers to the use of the Body image-acceptance and action questionnaire which to used to record body image flexibility. Body image flexibility is often shown to be associated with eating disorders and body dissatisfaction[factual?]. This involved the acceptance forward treatment for eating disorders has treatment potential and it a strong part of acceptance type treatment. (Emily K. Sandoz, 2013)

“The body image acceptance and action questionnaire (BI-AAQ) was adapted from existing measures of psychological flexibility to specially assess flexibility responding to body related thoughts and feelings” (quote) As a newer questionnaire, these is multiple versions, like the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ) and eating behaviour responses.

Psychological flexibility is similar to body image flexibility in that behaviours and values are consistent despite the negative feelings and thoughts, however, psychological flexibility [say what?] to the ability to experience life as it is at that moment. Both are used when discussing treatment for eating disorders and psychological health. An inflexibility of body image and psychology leads to the internalisation of those negative feelings and not engaging or having protective values and behaviours that is associated with eating problems and leading to eating disorders. A higher BMI (Body Mass Index) correlates with lower body image flexibility.

Body Image Flexibility has the attribute to act as a predictive measure to identify risk with more than 73% of patients in this study by (Emily K. Sandoz, 2013) was shown to be accurate when looking at the risk of developing eating disorders and body dissatisfaction was not a contributing factor.

Case study 2: Increasing Body Image Flexibility in Treatment[edit | edit source]

This study[factual?] outlines body image flexibility and psychological flexibility as a foundation for well-being and emotional stability. Flexibility is associated with better responses to acceptance based treatments and a stronger focus on body image flexibility is predicted to be a way to improve treatment options.

When increasing body image flexibility over time was associated with a decreased risk, positive changes to quality of life and positive well-being[grammar?]. Treatments targeting body image flexibility and psychological flexibility can benefit from patient specific tailoring and any sort of increasing flexibility even from a low start before treatment has a beneficial outcome on treatment and changes in flexibility to healthier responses. (E.J. Bluett, 2016)

These results shown how far body image flexibility has to go and the future of treatment of eating disorders and associated problems. The treatment possibilities for increasing Body image flexibility, allows for a different side to acceptance based treatments and therapy and encouraging positive behaviours and valuing them to have a better treatment process and building a strong bases for treatment options.

Future applications of the use of body image flexibility involvement in treatment of eating disorders is suggested to include a personalised treatment with body image flexibility as a tool to assist and teach behaviours and values and the reduction of risk factors of eating disorders(E.J. Bluett, 2016).

Case study 3: Habitual Negative Thinking[edit | edit source]

As a section of self-concept, the perception of appearance and beauty is a part of our society. Those without a high level of body image flexibility suffer due to negative thoughts and feelings when confronted with objects suggesting a strong body ideal which is against their own. Those with body image flexibility being high show an ability to adapt to these feelings and change to forward themselves and their wants while having a value to good healthy behaviours specifically towards eating (Verplanken, 2011)

Mentally, when repetition and autonomy of negative thoughts and feelings towards one’s self become a habit and are influence by many factors, generally environmental and social. With consistent negative thinking, body image flexibility is very low and the effects are shown in self-esteem and body image. The effects of negative thinking about one’s self has shown to cause a range of mental changes, the constant of habitual thinking affects one’s life during all time not just when confronted with these feelings directly from a source or pressure e.g. social media. With a chronically negative take on one’s self, self-worth and acceptance is extremely effected and the habit is continued by feelings of self-worth being constantly attacked and made to stay negative.

A study by Verplanken (2011) outlines the repetitive and automatic negative thinking as a “vulnerability factor with respect to body dissatisfaction, the propensity of eating disturbances and low self-esteem” (Verplanken, 2011) along with a chronic effect on one’s thinking and feeling. Body image and self- worth are greatly affected when presented with a non-stop negative take and with body dissatisfaction higher than ever and girls experiencing these feelings getting younger and younger, the recurrence of habitually negative feelings and thoughts are almost expected[grammar?]. The desire to change not only appearance but other physical factors including weight and facial structures such as teeth etc. are showing how the perfect body makes you evaluate yourself to be someone else and even affecting personality as well. Social comparison theory has a strong effect on humans to be a part and belong to everyone else with belonging actually a part of human needs that affects us as a part of the societal rejection of differences and individual, making everyone question where do I fit in? And why don’t I look like everyone else?

Socio-cultural influences are a major part of the negative views on bodies and appearances as the pressures from all around causes thinking to become negative an overtime, habitual in nature. Societal norms of beauty are usually always presented as unrealistic and unattainable.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Body image flexibility is a critical part of our psychological well-being and mental state. Its ability to protect and assist in treatment cases makes it a strong and needed part to a healthy life. With its effects on emotions about mental flexibility, inflexibility and self-esteem is important part of human needs. With the introduction of social media and media’s directed pressure on what the prefect and desirable body is, self-esteem rates specifically for teenagers and adolescence to have body dissatisfaction and wanting to change their body to match the presented ideals[grammar?].

The factors that contribute to the body image and self-esteem negativity seen in everyday life, there’s more need for flexibility both psychological and body image than ever before[grammar?]. Body image flexibility has such as important role in mental health and well-being and with more and more research being conducted each year, body image flexibility is able to help and assist in mental health, eating and problem eating disorder treatment and recovery[grammar?]. Emphasis on engaging new healthy behaviours and learning to value a different way of thinking about one’s self and body has a{{gr} all important role in the rates of successful treatment and ability to act as a predictor always for earlier intervention and help for those at risk.

Flexibility effects{{gr} everyone and it’s the reason not everyone is effected{{gr} by negative thoughts and feelings in the same destructive way that evolves into problem eating and eating disorders. The use of increasing [missing something?] and focusing on flexibility both psychological and body image has potential to change the way treatment is conducted for eating disorders. This potential for a new process allows for the well-being of patients to be cared for and the healthier behaviours and thinking regarding body image flexibility encouraged while allowing for body image flexibility to work as a protective measure as intended.

Body image Flexibility is an important factor in everyday life as it goes hand in hand with societal pressures of perfect bodies. The importance of understanding how body image inflexibility effects[grammar?] a person, could allow for future applications in the problems with self-esteem and body dissatisfaction. While the current media has allowed for a change toward individual differences, there’s still room to improve and encourage healthier behavior and values for body image and self-esteem and how we react to the negativity.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Betz, D. E. (2019). Ideal comparisons: Body ideals harm women’s body image through social comparison. Body Image, 100-109, Volume 29.

Daniel CLay, V. L. (2005). Body Image and Self-Esteem Among Adolescent Girls: Testing the Influence of Sociocultural factors. Journal of research on Adolescence , 451-477.

Dittmar, H. (2009). How do "Body Perfect" Ideals in the media have a negative impact on body image and behaviours? Factors and processes related to self and identity. Journal of Social and CLincial Psychology, 1-8, Volume 28.

Duchesne, A.-P., Lalande, D., Émond, C., Lalande, G., Dion, J., Bégin, C., & McDuff, P. (2017). Body dissatisfaction and psychological distress in adolescents: Is self-esteem a mediator? Journal of Health Psychology, 1563-1569.

E.J. Bluett, E. L.-B.-R. (2016). The role of body image psychological flexibility on the treatment of eating disorders in a residential facility. Eating Behaviours, 150-155, Volume 23.

Emily K. Sandoz, K. K. (2013). Assessment of body image flexibility: The Body Image-Acceptance and Action Questionnaire. Journal of Contextual Behaviour sciences, 39-48, Volume 2.

Eric B. Lee, C. W.-B.-R. (2018). Increasing body image flexibility in a residential eating disorder facility: Correlates with symptom improvement. The journal of treatment and prevention, 185-199, Volume 26.

Givehki, R. A. (2018). Effect of acceptance and commitment therapy on body image flexibility and body awareness in patients with psychosomatic disorders: a randomized clinical trial. Electronic Physician , 7008-7016, Volume 10.

Mary L. Hill, R. D. (2013). Body image flexibility as a protective factor against disordered eating behavior for women with lower body mass index. Eating Behaviours, 336-341, Volume 14.

Masuda, A. L. (2018). Understanding self-concealment within a framework of eating disorder cognitions and body image flexibility: Conceptual and applied implications. Eating Behaviours, 49-54.

Pellizzer, M. L. (2018). Body image flexibility: A predictor and moderator of outcome in transdiagnostic outpatient eating disorder treatment. International Journal of Eating disorders, 368-372, Volume 51.

Rogers, C. B. (2018). A systematic review of the roles of body image flexibility as correlate, moderator, mediator, and in intervention science (2011–2018). Body Image , 43-60, Volume 27.

Tan, W. H.-R.-T. (2019). Trait body image flexibility as a predictor of body image states in everyday life of young Australian women. Body Image , 212-220, Volume 30.

Verplanken, B. T. (2011). No body is perfect: The significance of habitual negative thinking about appearance for body dissatisfaction, eating disorder propensity, self-esteem and snacking. Psychology and Health, 685, Volume 26.