National Eating Disorders Association

Body Project PostcardThirty million people in the United States will struggle with a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lives. Prevention and early intervention efforts aimed to increase body acceptance can reduce disordered eating symptoms as well as help to create an environment that encourages healthy recovery. Numerous studies have linked exposure to prevalent “appearance ideal” in mass media to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. 

Research has shown when women/girls talk about the “appearance-ideal” (sometimes referred to as the thin-ideal, beauty-ideal, or cultural-ideal) portrayed in the mass media, and discuss how to challenge pressures to conform to these pressures, it makes them feel better about their bodies. One program that has repeatedly been shown to effectively reduce body dissatisfaction, negative mood, unhealthy dieting and disordered eating, is the Body Project.  

What is the Body Project? 

Backed by two decades of research and evaluation data, the Body Project is a group-based intervention that provides a forum for women and girls to confront unrealistic beauty ideals and engages them in the development of healthy body image through verbal, written, and behavioral exercises. The Body Project was developed by researchers at Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Oregon Research Institute, and has been delivered to over one million young women around the world. 

The conceptual basis for the Body Project is that if girls and young women voluntarily argue against the societal appearance-ideal, this will result in a reduced subscription to this ideal and to consequent decreases in eating disorder risk factors and eating disordered behaviors.

What are the objectives of the Body Project?

  1. Define the “appearance” ideal and explore its origin
  2. Examine the costs of pursuing this ideal
  3. Explore ways to resist pressures to conform to unrealistic standards of beauty
  4. Discuss how to challenge personal body-related concerns
  5. Learn new ways to talk more positively about our bodies
  6. Talk about how we can best respond to future pressures to conform to societal standards of beauty