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Jul 24

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We Are What Other People Think We Are?!?

A new study, recently published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, found that the most important factor in how a woman appreciates her body is other people's opinion of how she looks. However, they also found that the more women focused on how their bodies function rather than others' opinions, the more they appreciated their bodies. Researchers from Ohio State University were interested in the subject because it appears that how women appreciate their bodies influences how they eat and take care of themselves - like eating when they're hungry rather than because of their emotional state, for instance. The researchers say it's about respect: the more women like their bodies, the more likely they are to treat them well by eating properly, getting appropriate health screenings, and exercising. I've featured the study in the Life-Cise News page.

I found this quite an interesting study for women in general, as well as for us as cancer survivors. The study highlights what a big role the media and the opinions of those close to us have. When women were less concerned with what others thought, they were more likely to focus on how well their bodies were functioning. And that, in turn, led to better eating habits.

It's of particular interest to us as cancer survivors, I think, because body image can be such a big deal after cancer - for men and women. Depending on the type of cancer, we can end up alive but with a markedly changed body, either in form or function. Besides dealing with Cancer, we have bodies that may look and act very differently than we're used to. Getting used to it can be a difficult transition.

What I liked about the study, and what I think has relevance to us, is the idea that we can improve how we feel about our bodies by focusing on function.

I have spoken and written on the subject of body image after cancer. It can be quite shocking to suddenly have a body that looks dramatically different - even if it's dramatic to no one but ourselves. What I found was that, as I regained my strength and was able to return to activities that were important to me, I felt better about my new body. My experience was right in line with this study: it was function that led the way.

Julie



 

- BY Julie Goodale | 04.06.2011

 

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