Exploring the Experience of Body Self-Compassion for Young Adult Women Who Exercise
Five women between the ages of 23 and 28 years participated in this study. The women identified themselves as Caucasian and middle-class, were university students, and indicated that they exercised at least four times a week. Each woman participated in an individual interview in which she was asked to describe two instances where she experienced body self-compassion. The womens interviews were analyzed using an empirical phenomenology method (Giorgi, 1985; Giorgi & Giorgi, 2003) to identify the components of the womens stories that were essential to their experience of body self-compassion. A follow-up focus group discussion provided the women with the opportunity to offer feedback on the essential structures. Four essential structures emerged from these interviews: appreciating ones unique body, taking ownership of ones body, engaging in less social comparison, and body self-compassion as a dynamic process. A facilitating structure, the importance of others, also emerged. The findings of this study are generally consistent with Neffs (2003a) conceptualization of self-compassion as they reflect Neffs overall description of self-compassion without merely replicating the three components of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
The findings of this study provide support for the exploration of more specific domains of self-compassion, such as the body. This study also makes a significant contribution to the body image literature, which has been criticized for being pathology-oriented and for focusing mainly on appearance-related attitudes (Blood, 2005; Grogan, 2006). This study explored a positive body attitude and highlighted the womens attitudes toward their physical capabilities in addition to their appearance. Further research is needed to develop the body self-compassion construct by exploring the generalizability of the essential structures that emerged in this study to broader populations.
Advisor:Martin, Stephanie; Kowalski, Kent; Guyrcsik, Nancy; Nicol, J.A.J.
School:University of Saskatchewan
School Location:Canada - Saskatchewan
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:positive body attitude empirical phenomenology image
Date of Publication:08/24/2007