Body image: function over form

Bree Abbott of Murdoch University raises some interesting and insightful advice in her article for The Conversation, Teaching girls to prioritise function over form for better body image.  Essentially, Abbott hypothesises that one potential cause for the increase in body dissatisfaction among adolescent girls is that girls stop focusing on what their bodies can do (run, jump, climb) and begin focusing on what their body is (bluntly put, an aesthetic object).  The purpose of this post is not to rant about the objectification of young women, but to point out research that suggests girls who can redirect their focus on body function (through participation in sporting and physical activity) are more likely to feel satisfied with their bodies.  Abbot suggests that the message that girls should love their bodies as they are are well-meaning but still put the spotlight on appearance.  The addition of functional body education and increased participation in physical activities such as organised sport may be the key to critically challenging body image issues.

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One thought on “Body image: function over form

  1. Hi Penny,
    I agree with this. The frequent loss of participation by girls in sport & physical activities is, itself, an interesting thing. Parents will comment on how once active girls in team sports, lose interest for no apparent reason. The concern is that they do not replace this active involvement in another physical exertion &, thus, learn about their own abilities, with another type of physical activity + allow the opportunity to embrace success & challenge. I do wonder whether the subliminal impact, through advertising, popular cultural texts etc, in our highly visual world, invites the ‘compare & despair’ lens through which a girl sees herself – completely in keeping with maturation & the need to find ‘a spot’ in girl world & the world.
    Catherine

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