Can music change how you feel about your body?

Can Music Change How You Feel About Your Body?

At Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition + Yoga, we treat clients who commonly experience negative body image, feel hyper critical of their appearance, or even struggle with Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD). We aim to help these clients lessen the intense feelings of body dissatisfaction and move in the direction of body neutrality and eventually body appreciation. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), people who have negative body image feel that their “bodes are flawed in comparison to others” and they are “more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and eating disorders.”

Those who do not struggle with eating disorders can still struggle with feelings of body dissatisfaction. According to an article published in the European Eating Disorders Review in 2013, “in the United States, 69-84% of women exhibit body dissatisfaction.” Sadly, young girls and women are incessantly inundated with images and messages from mainstream media dictating how we should look, what we should wear, and how we should feel about ourselves which influence how we feel about our bodies, usually negatively. These messages aren’t exclusive to print and visual media, they are also commonly found in song lyrics and music videos.

New research involving music discusses a fast and seemingly effective way for clients to fight against negative body image. An article entitled “Mirror, mirror on the wall: The effect of listening to body positive music on implicit and explicit body esteem” summarized the results of three studies that assessed the effect of body positive music, body objectifying music, and neutral music on women’s “body esteem.”

One study showed that women who watched the body positive video “Try“ by Colbie Caillat reported higher body esteem than after watching “Good for You” by Selena Gomez, which was determined as a body objectifying video by researchers.

Body Positive – Excerpt from “Try” by Colbie Caillat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXoZLPSw8U8

Wait a second,
Why, should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try

Body Objectifying – Excerpt from “Good for You” by Selena Gomez

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TsVjvEkc4s&list=LLBqXokI6KDdYKCzphWpC3lA&index=2371

Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight
Do my hair up real, real nice
And syncopate my skin to your heart beating

‘Cause I just wanna look good for you, good for you
I just wanna look good for you, good for you
Let me show you how proud I am to be yours
Leave this dress a mess on the floor
And still look good for you, good for you

A noteworthy conclusion from another study discussed in this article revealed that women with underlying “low body esteem” reported lower body esteem after listening to body positive AND body objectifying music versus after listening to neutral music, or music that did not have anything to do with one’s appearance – positive or negative. This means that appearance related songs may negatively affect someone who struggles with body image. On the other hand, for those without underlying body image issues, body positive music seems to have a beneficial effect on how one thinks about their body and alternatively, listening to body objectifying music lowers their body esteem.

It is refreshing to know that there is a fast and effective way to improve one’s body image, although it is important to recognize that this is one piece of the complex puzzle involving self-perception. Yet, based on this research, listening to a 2-3 minute song, which is generally easy and accessible for most people, can make a positive impact on one’s body image!

10 Empowering / Body Positive Songs (For Those Without Underlying Body Image Issues)

  1. “My Skin” by Lizzo
  2. “Bad Lieutenant” by Kate Nash
  3. “Good as Hell” by Lizzo
  4. “Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara
  5. “Video” by India Arie
  6. “Confident” by Demi Lovato
  7. “Light On” by Maggie Rogers
  8. “She Used to Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles
  9. “Firework” by Katy Perry
  10. “You Mean the World to Me” by Freya Ridings

10 Neutral Songs Not Relating to Appearance (For Those With Underlying Body Image Issues)

  1. “Higher Love” by Kygo, Whitney Houston
  2. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
  3. “Adventure of a Lifetime” by Coldplay
  4. “Grow As We Go” by Ben Platt
  5. “Happier” by Bastille and Marshmello
  6. “Rhythm is a Dancer” Remix by Breathe Carolina
  7. “Over and Over” by Hot Chip
  8. “Sister of Pearl” by Baio
  9. “Awake” by Tycho
  10. “Going Up the Country” by Canned Heat

Resources

Coyne, S. M., Davis, E. J., Warburton, W., Stockdale, L., Abba, I., & Busby, D. M. (2020). Mirror, mirror on the wall: The effect of listening to body positive music on implicit and explicit body esteem. Psychology of Popular Media. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000273

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/body-image-eating-disorders

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3745223/



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