In this compelling book, Joan Chrisler and Ingrid Johnston-Robledo examine how women relate to their bodies and how attitudes toward the body affect women's sense of self.

In particular, they document the disturbing, never-ending barrage of standards used to judge women's bodies. For example, women are taught that their bodies should be beautiful (but not as a result of too much effort), sexy (but not slutty), pure (but not prudish), slender (but curvy in the right places), youthful (if they are adults), mature (if they are adolescents), feminine, healthy, and able-bodied.

These impossible standards prompt women to pursue life-long body improvement projects — which leads to self-objectification or a negative embodied self.

The authors review the research on these phenomena and analyze them through the lens of various psychological theories, including objectification theory, stigma theory, terror management theory, and stereotype embodiment theory.

Importantly, they then suggest ways to help women and girls achieve a positive embodied self, which includes challenging and resisting pressures to alter and discipline their bodies in unhealthy ways.

Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Linda J. Beckman and Mary Wyer

  1. Woman's Embodied Self: An Introduction
  2. Theorizing the Body
  3. The (Un)Attractive Body
  4. The Sexual Body
  5. The Reproductive Body
  6. The (Un)Healthy Body
  7. The Aging Body
  8. Managing and Resisting Negative Embodiment



About the Authors

Author Bios

Joan C. Chrisler, PhD, is the Class of 1943 Professor of Psychology at Connecticut College, where she teaches courses on the psychology of women, health psychology, and social psychology.

She has published dozens of articles, chapters, and books on her areas of expertise: women's health, reproductive rights, menstruation, premenstrual syndrome, body image, women and weight, and women and aging.

She is the editor of the journal Women's Reproductive Health and has held leadership roles in a number of professional associations, including APA, the Association for Women in Psychology, the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, and the American Association of University Professors.

Ingrid Johnston-Robledo, PhD, is the dean of arts, sciences, and community engagement at Castleton University in Castleton, Vermont. She was previously professor of psychology and women's studies at the State University of New York College at Fredonia, where she taught courses on the psychology of women, human sexuality, body politics, health psychology, and prejudice and discrimination.

She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on topics related to women's reproductive and sexual health, is associate editor of the journal Women's Reproductive Health, and has held leadership roles in the Society for the Psychology of Women and the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.