Overcoming the pressure for perfection: teens and body image


“Images of the ideal body shape, both female and male, are increasingly and relentlessly portrayed in the media,” says Marie-Ève Blackburn of Cégep de Jonquière’s Centre d’Étude des Conditions de vie et es Besoins de la population. In response to this, Blackburn is directing a project focused on building positive body image and self-esteem in adolescents. It is funded by SSHRC as part of its Community and College Social Innovation Fund.

Blackburn is concerned about the way girls perceive body image, since more than 70 per cent of Québec students say they are unhappy about their weight. This growing dissatisfaction among teens has taken a toll on their overall health. It has been linked to anxiety, depression, bullying and eating disorders.

This project focuses on the program: Healthy Mind, Healthy Body. Developed by ÉquiLibre (a partner on this project), it is designed to promote healthy body image among teenagers.

BTBP is a ready-made program, designed to be delivered by school or youth centre staff. The implementation of BTBP has been evaluated, but its impact never has. The first step in the project is to measure the post-program impact of BTBP. Researchers will ask youth who participated in the program questions about their perception of body image, such as how they feel about self-esteem, the influence of media, bullying, stress, awareness and healthy lifestyle choices. That information will be used by ÉquiLibre to evaluate the program and to make it more effective. The second part of the project is to establish a multidisciplinary international research team focused on creating positive body images in teens.


Centre de recherche sur la communication et la santé, UQAM