Document Type

Research Paper


The Body Workshop was created to examine womens' perceptions of body image and its relation to appearance, self-esteem and self-worth. The workshop had two main goals: to find correlations between body image and internal/external ideas of beauty and to create an open forum for women to discuss and explore these subject. We limited our sample to women of Campbell Hall at the University of Northern Iowa and presented the workshop to fifty-four women ranging in age form freshman to senior status. The workshop consisted of a questionnaire, visual analysis, open discussion, and meditative exercise. Each woman was asked to bring a picture of herself in "going out" attire. The participants answered two questions focused on internal/external beauty values and one question analyzing her choice of outfit in the picture. The photographs were color copied and returned to all participants. Through analysis of the questionnaires and photographs, each woman was categorized on a continuum ranging form Hedonic (reliance on how on looks) to Agonic (reliance on what one does). Each category was then examined to find patterns relating to happiness from appearance and happiness from achievements. Our interpretation of the data showed that the highest emphasis placed on the body occurred in the Hedonic category. We surmised that this could lead to unattainable body ideals, eating disorders, low self-esteem, etc. Emphasis on achievement was highest in the Agonic category. Because internal beauty characteristics were important to this group, we felt these women had a healthier perception of their bodies. We felt our research supported the idea that there is an influential connection between body image and self-esteem and open forums to discuss this connection are important because of the high impact that ideas of beauty have on women's lives.

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Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference





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©2000 by the University of Northern Iowa



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University of Northern Iowa


Cedar Falls, IA