Body Project Implementation in Virginia Tech Athletics: Effect on Body Image Satisfaction and Thin Idealization
Labiaga, Janelle S. C.
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Eating disorders and disordered eating have a prevalence of 6% to 45% in collegiate female athletes (Knapp, Aerni, & Anderson, 2014). Thin idealization and body image dissatisfaction are risk factors for the development of disordered eating and eating disorders. Dissonance-based prevention programs have been shown to be effective in reducing thin idealization and body image dissatisfaction, as well as lessening risk of developing disordered eating and eating disorders. Currently, Virginia Tech Athletics does not utilize a group-based eating disorder prevention program for its female athletes. The purpose of this pilot project was to administer the Body Project, a dissonance-based prevention program aimed at reducing thin idealization and body image dissatisfaction, to female swimmers at Virginia Tech and evaluate the program’s effect on thin idealization and body image dissatisfaction. Thin idealization and body image dissatisfaction were evaluated via the Body Parts Satisfaction Survey-Revised (BPSS-R) and the Ideal Body Stereotype Survey-Revised (IBSS-R), respectively, before and after completion of the Body Project. Ten female swimmers, without current eating disorders, volunteered to participate, and nine swimmers (19.44 ± 1.42 years old; 5 freshmen, 2 juniors, and 2 seniors) completed the full project. Sixty-seven percent of participants (6 out of 9) experienced a reduction in their subscription to thin-ideal internalization (IBSS-R 2.96 ± 0.92 pre, 1.85 ± 0.88 post, p<0.05), while 78% of participants (7 out of 9) experienced an increase in body satisfaction (BPSS-R 4.42 ± 1.35 pre, 5.08 ± 0.90 post, p<0.05, p< 0.05). The findings of this pilot project suggest that the Body Project is an effective tool to influence subscription to thin-ideal internalization and body satisfaction in female college athletes. Continued effort to refine and implement the Body Project as group-based eating disorder prevention program for female college athletes is needed.