A large number of people experience shame around their body and body image, as a result of media and cultural influences.
In this blog post, we have curated 7 videos that could be useful for therapists, counsellors and health care workers working with body image, body related shame, and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).
While they explore different aspects of body image, shame is a central theme.
The Impact of Body Image on Mental Health
Can body image problems affect our mental health? | BBC Tomorrow’s World (5:46)
Featuring interviews with the comedian, Dave Chawner, this video from BBC Tomorrow’s World describes how body image problems can be part of a range of mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, social phobias, disordered eating and body dysmorphic disorder. It also names the sometimes-blurred boundaries between eating disorders and BDD, and the benefits of exposure therapy.
Body Positivity & Self-Objectification
Body Positivity or Body Obsession? Learning to See More & Be More | Lindsay Kite | TEDxSaltLakeCity (16:47)
In this TEDx talk, Dr Lindsay Kite, draws on her own research and experience to address the poor mental health that can result from body objectification and poor body image. Lindsay holds a master’s and Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Utah, specializing in the study of media representation of women and female body image.
Along with her identical twin sister, she co-founded the not-for project organisation: Beauty Redefined. Their central message:
Women are more than just bodies. See more. Be more.
The work includes delivering presentations in schools, treatment centres, and religious organisations. They focus on the power of recognising, rejecting and resisting harmful messages about bodies and women’s worth in popular culture.
This engaging TEDx talk expands on their message which is founded on the premise that:
positive body image isn’t believing that your body looks good. It’s knowing that your body is good regardless of how it looks (3:05).
“Self-objectification is the process of monitoring your body from an outsider’s perspective, picturing what you look like all day even when no one is looking at you. Studies show if girls and women are in a state of self-objectification, they perform worse on math and reading comprehension tests, they can’t throw a softball as hard or run as far or lift as heavy of weights as they can when they are not self-conscious of their bodies” (4:29).
“If even a small part of your mental energy is constantly dedicated to your looks you are at a disadvantage” (4:57)
To combat this, Lindsay introduces the mantra:
My body is an instrument not an ornament (7:27)
Body Image Disruption
Body image disruption is a term that Lindsay uses to describe the painful experiences that create or extenuate body induced shame. These painful experiences (for example being made fun of by others, being assaulted, putting on a swimsuit) can result in 3 paths of response.
The first is sinking deeper into the shame, along with the harmful coping strategies that help the person numb the feeling of shame. This might include self-harm, disordered eating, or substance abuse. In each case the response may be effective in numbing the response, but ultimately leaves them worse off.
The second path involves clinging to established comfort zones such as isolating and hiding (for example avoiding social occasions and activities), or trying to fix the body for future acceptance (for example through extreme dieting).
Body Image Resilience
The third path, which Lindsay was especially interested in during her research, describes the process of developing body image resilience in the face of these painful body image disruption experiences.
Helping others build this resilience has become central to her work, and can be developed through an ongoing process of becoming aware of the distorted images and messages in the wider world and culture, including the media, and finding a healthier response.
Lindsay highlights the potential effectiveness of this process, through the example of a 13 year old girl who was self-harming in response to body image related bullying. After attending the workshop she made a commitment to use her experiences to become stronger and more compassionate:
In a follow up, it was found the her self-harming stopped initially for days, weeks and months and then for years.
This could be a good video and organisation to point to clients. Their website includes links their book, email newsletter and social media channels.
Living Without Shame
Living without shame: How we can empower ourselves | Whitney Thore | TEDxGreensboro (20:02)
In this upfront TEDx video, Whitney Thore, confronts the shame of being fat in our society. She tells her life story which includes her PCOS diagnosis, travelling the world, being abused and assaulted due to her weight, and her ongoing eating disorder, all accompanied by her companion shame.
At a time of rock bottom she describes:
“I knew, intellectually, that as long as I let my self-worth be determined in the eyes of others, I would never be content. But I could not disengage from the belief that I had to be thin to be happy.” (11:23)
“So I decided to try an experiment, and I made a promise. I said, “Whitney, if there is something that you get asked to do and your only reason for declining is to say, ‘because I’m fat,’ then you are going to do that thing anyway.” The universe was listening because you’d better believe – three days later, I got a message from a local photographer who told me she wanted to take some boudoir photographs of me for free. (13:07)
After this she then accepted an invitation to be filmed dancing in a video posted online called “A fat girl dancing”. The video went viral and she was interviewed by CNN, Good Morning America, and the Today Show. She also received messages from people all over the world saying how she was helping them feel okay about their own shame.
She goes on to explore the invitation, inspiration and intention to live a shame free life one day at a time, saying:
“And then I realised, like, it’s not about the fact that I’m fat; it’s about the fact that I am living a shame-free life in spite of a society that tells me I don’t deserve to. We all have something that society tells us we should feel shame about. For me, it’s visible in a world where thinness is championed above all else, where we tell women in no uncertain terms, “If you are not young enough, thin enough, and pretty enough, you’re disposable”
Living in that world, deciding to love my body had become a radical act. And doing what I loved in that body had become powerful. (17:03).”
Understanding Body Dysmorphia
These videos include interviews with a range of people who have been diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, giving an insight into the pain and challenges of the condition.
BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER (BDD), Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment (4:52)
This video gives an overview of BDD, defining the condition as “a mental disorder marked by an obsessive idea of perceived defects or flaws in one’s appearance. A flaw that to others, is considered minor or not observable. People suffering from BDD can feel emotion such as shame of disgust concerning a part of part of their body part and fixate on this.”
Sky News Special Report: Imperfect Me – the impact of Body Dysmorphia (8:15)
This 8-minute video follows 3 young people who have been diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder and are seeking treatment at the Maudsley Hospital in south London.
Seeing Myself As Ugly: What Body Dysmorphia Feels Like (2:46)
This BBC Three video presents a range of people in recovery from BDD who talk movingly about their own personal experiences, opening with a women who didn’t have children as a result of her condition.
The BDD Foundation YouTube Channel
The BDD Foundation YouTube channel is a rich resource for anyone working with BDD and includes videos of recent conferences that could be highly useful for therapists and health care workers, including the power of CBT and graded exposure.
Because I’m Ugly: Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and me. (5:49)
This animation by Salvador Maldonado and Caterina Monzani in collaboration with the BDD Foundation, follows the experiences of a young man with BDD, including the improvement of his condition through ‘exposures’, tasks where he was pushed to the limits of his comfort including going on the tube and the park and allowing interaction with others (3:30).
Watch more videos on their YouTube Channel.
Dr Nicole Schnackenberg is a community and educational psychologist; a yoga therapist; a trustee of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation, and the author of many highly acclaimed books on food and body image struggles.
Nicole Schnackenberg has been one of our most popular trainers, delivering powerful and heartfelt workshops on food and body image issues
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CPD Counter: 71 minutes (7 minutes reading time + video watch times).
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