Body studies is a growing area of interest to scholars in sociology, women’s studies, and other disciplines in the humanities. But although many psychological theories are relevant to this field, psychology has not yet contributed to it in a substantive way. Joan C. Chrisler and Ingrid Johnston-Robledo hope to bridge the gap with their new book, Woman’s Embodied Self: Feminist Perspectives on Identity and Image. This book discusses women’s complex relations with their bodies and how attitudes toward the body affect women’s sense of self.
The authors write:
Our goal is to define problems in embodiment, examine them through the lenses of various psychological theories (e.g., objectification theory, stigma theory, terror management theory, stereotype embodiment theory), review the research to date on these problems, and suggest ways to help women and girls to achieve a healthy embodiment.
The authors argue that the body is a text on which women’s social location is written. Many different factors limit, constrain, or undermine women’s healthy embodiment. These include sexism, stigma, gender stereotypes, consumerism, medicalization, and the pressure to have a sanitized, sexualized, youthful, thin, healthy, and attractive body. By challenging and resisting negative sociocultural messages that promote body dissatisfaction and unhealthy beauty practices, mental health professionals and lay readers alike can help women and girls achieve a positive embodied self.