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Body Image Development within the Family: Attachment Dynamics and Parental Attitudes in Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Studies

Context: Body image is the subjective representation of one’s own body and has different component. Body dissatisfaction is linked to low self-esteem and unhealthy behaviors and it is recognized to be at the core of eating disorders psychopathology, therefore many studies search for its determinants. Family is the critical environment where early development and psychological maturation occur and family dynamics seem to play a significant role in body image development.

Objective and methods: The scope of this mini-review is to offer a general understanding of the recent research on body image and family functioning. Papers from 2000 and 2017 were selected to represent the different areas of inquiry on the subject, mainly parental attitudes and attachment.

Results and conclusion: Many studies seem to indicate a definite role for the relationships within the family in buffering negative environmental pressures and promoting body image satisfaction. Family interactions can have lasting effects on body image which are understood in attachment theory by mean of the internalization of stable working models. Treatment and prevention program for body image concern should emphasize the relevance of positive early interactions and the detrimental effect of the focus on idealized body standards.


Federico Amianto

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