"To lose confidence in one's body is to lose confidence in oneself."
- Simone De Beauvoir
Self-image is inextricably linked to body image, especially for young females. In her book, Reviving Ophelia - Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, Pipher (1994) describes and explains the convoluted issues that girls battle during adolescence, including the ability to conform to a media-driven ideal of beauty. In response to Pipher (1994), Shandler (1999) collected writing from girls who deal with issues identified in her book, Ophelia Speaks - Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search for Self. The submissions are not easy to read. The first section, The Body Under Assault, gives voice to girls' extremely negative body images. Also described are the self-abusive ways girls often deal with these negative feelings, from anorexia to self-inflicted wounds to alcohol abuse. Shandler (1999) discusses some causes of negative body image, such as rape, sexual abuse, and media images.
What is clear from both books is that girls are likely to internalize the various pressures of adolescence, which can lead to a decreased sense of self and a negative body image. The negative view of self is evident in the following submission by Jessica, 17, who lives in a small town in the Northeast:
Searching through catalogues
You wish you could order
The bodies not the clothes. (Shandler, 1999, p.5)
The aim of this independent inquiry is to investigate the following questions:
What is the connection between body image, self-esteem, and eating disorders, particularly with girls?
As a teacher, how can I promote healthy body image and self-esteem at the elementary level, and prevent eating disorders?
What techniques and activities can be used to promote healthy body image and self-esteem?
Abundant research supports the existence of strong links between body image, self-esteem and eating disorders.