The Body Project is a cognitive-dissonance-based body acceptance intervention that was designed to help adolescent girls and young women resist sociocultural pressures to conform to the thin-ideal and reduce their pursuit of thinness.

The Body Project

A reduction in thin-ideal internalization should result in improved body satisfaction and improved mood, reduced use of unhealthy weight-control behaviors, and decreased binge eating and other eating disorder symptoms.

Consistent with this expectation, randomized prevention trials conducted by at least eight independent labs have found the Body Project eating disorder prevention program reduces thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, negative mood, unhealthy dieting, and eating disorder symptoms.  This intervention has also been found to reduce risk for future onset of threshold and subthreshold eating disorders.  In addition, there is evidence that the Body Project intervention reduces the risk for future onset of obesity, results in improved psychosocial functioning, and reduces mental health care utilization.

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

Thus, this intervention involves a series of verbal, written, and behavioral exercises in which the students critique the thin ideal.  Theoretically, the act of publicly critiquing the thin ideal results in cognitive dissonance among those who originally endorsed this ideal, which causes them to reduce their subscription to the thin ideal.  As such, the Body Project intervention attempts to apply persuasion principles, originally identified by social psychologists, to reduce an attitudinal risk factor for eating pathology.

All exercises are focused solely on providing an opportunity for the participants to critique the thin ideal; no other risk factors are expressly targeted in this intervention.  It is paramount that the participants, rather than the group leaders, critique the thin ideal, because participants will not experience dissonance if group leaders do the critiquing.

Time Magazine article about the Body Project (1/17/2008)

To learn about scheduling a Body Project facilitator training, please visit the Body Project Collaborative webpage:

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