Is the body the self? Women and body image

Coll Antropol. 2007 Mar;31(1):63-7.


This paper discusses how women's body image or experience of the body influences their identity and self-image. What are the implications of this tendency to equate the body and the self? For many women, being a dieter represents not only something that they do, but also an important aspect of how they see themselves. We propose that choosing to become a chronic dieter is a means of regulating not just one's feelings, but also one's identity and self-image when those central aspects of the self feel threatened. Weight-loss dieting is often unsuccessful, however, and repeated dieting attempts may increase weight as often as they reduce it, so using body shape to determine self-worth or identity is a maladaptive strategy for most women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Body Image*
  • Diet
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Social Identification*