The Body Project is a dissonance-based body-acceptance intervention designed to help high school and college-age women resist sociocultural pressures to conform to the thin-ideal and reduce their pursuit of thinness. 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 eight independent labs have found the Body Project 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. To our knowledge, no other prevention program has produced intervention effects for eating disorder symptoms in trials conducted by independent labs or shown superior effects relative to alternative active interventions. The Body Project also appears to be the first eating disorder prevention program that has received support when delivered by research-trained staff, real-world providers, and even undergraduate peer leaders.
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 symptoms. 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.
DESCRIPTION OF THIS WEBSITE
In addition to its description of the Body Project, this general website contain several empirical publications supporting the effectiveness of this intervention, copies of the actual facilitator manuals and participants workbooks, links to helpful websites, and frequently asked questions (FAQ).
The website contains two versions of the newly enhanced-dissonance Body Project program: one version consists of 4 one-hour weekly sessions and the second consists of 6 shorter (45-minute) sessions for centers that cannot run one-hour sessions. The site also includes an 6-session dissonance-based intervention focused on the prevention of obesity (called Project Health).
Users interested in providing the Body Project are encouraged to register so they can access the secure area of this website. The secure area contains training videos and mock group segments, additional documents for conducting groups (e.g., recruitment materials, brief assessment surveys, supervision rating forms), information on successfully implementing the program, additional FAQ, and a forum for asking questions and sharing information.