chapter  1
5 Pages

Introduction

Interest in the psychology and sociology of body image originated in the work of Paul Schilder in the 1920s. He was the first researcher to look at body experience within a psychological and sociological framework. Prior to Schilder’s work, body image research was limited to the study of distorted body perceptions caused by brain damage. Schilder developed this work to consider the wider psychological and sociological frameworks within which perceptions and experiences of body image took place. In The Image and Appearance of the Human Body (1950) he argues that body image is not just a cognitive construct, but also a reflection of attitudes and interactions with others. He was interested in the ‘elasticity’ of body image, the reasons for fluctuations in perceived body size, feelings of lightness and heaviness, and the effects of body image on interactions with others. He defined body image as:

The picture of our own body which we form in our mind, that is to say, the way in which the body appears to ourselves.