Baring Truths About Women’s Bodies

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October 2003 Volume 14, Number 5
©2003 Gürze Books

In an effort to counteract the unrealistic and sometimes harmful portrayal of women in ads and other media, a pilot project is bringing real-life images and stories of women to sites across the country. “The Century Project,” a collection of nude photographs and personal stories of women from birth to 100 years of age, is now touring the U.S. The exhibit is designed to counteract media images of unrealistic female shapes with real-life images. Women have responded positively to the exhibit, according to the authors, and often describe the exhibit as having a “therapeutic effect” upon their own body image. As Janet Murray and Stacey Tatleff-Dunn of the University of Central Florida reported at this spring’s Academy for Eating Disorders meeting in Denver, modest but positive effects occurred after a test group of 56 undergraduates (41 females and 15 males) viewed the exhibit. After seeing the exhibit, the men and women rated their reactions on several dimensions, using a scale from 1 (changed negatively; unimportant) to 5 (changed positively; very important). After the exhibit, the students’ views of their own bodies were slightly more positive. Women reported more positive changes than did men.

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