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An Exploration of Female Body Image: Artists’ Experience of Creating the Female Form

1 January 2017


Body dissatisfaction places women at higher risk for eating disorder behaviors (Ferreiro, Seoane, & Senra, 2011), depression (Brausch & Gutierrez, 2009; Ferreiro et al., 2011), and low self-esteem (Paxton, Neumark-Sztainer, Hannon, & Eisenberg, 2006). Conversely, positive body image has been shown to be associated with better mental health, fewer unhealthy dieting behaviors, higher self-esteem, and increased self-care and health behaviors (Gillen, 2015; Tylka, 2011). Interventions such as physical exercise (Campbell & Hausenblas, 2009), media literacy education (Yager & O’Dea, 2008), cognitive behavioral therapy, and self-esteem enhancement (Alleva, Sheeran, Webb, Martijn, & Miles, 2015) have demonstrated utility in reducing body image dissatisfaction (BID) and internalization of the thin ideal. A review of the literature failed to identify interventions outside of psychological treatments that may be helpful. It is possible that other types of interventions involving the body in a positive way may have a resulting beneficial effect on body image. Research on the evaluation and creation of visual art has shown general positive psychological and physiological effects for both artists, as well as viewers or audience (Reynolds, 2000; Reynolds 2010). Given art’s positive impact on general well-being and psychological health, it is possible that creating works of art that depict the female form could affect one’s body image, and that this may be a positive effect. The aim of the proposed study is to use a qualitative approach to explore how women use various art forms to empower themselves and promote body positivity.


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