Eating Disorders Information (EDI)

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Research

Mirror exposure can help overcome body image problems

Posted by a.marlow on October 7, 2012 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (0)

If you are suffering from an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, or if you are simply self-conscious about your body, then chances are that looking at yourself in the mirror is the last thing you'd want to do. You probably know from experience that looking in the mirror is going to bring feelings of discomfort and make you convinced that your body is unacceptable.


And yet... looking in the mirror for an extended period of time might be just what you need to do. Research by Moreno-Dominguez et al. has found that "pure mirror exposure, based on the traditional extinction paradigm, led to strong emotional activation followed by a fast decrease in emotional reactivity." What this means in plain english is that, while you might be overwhelmed at first by feelings of disgust and unworthiness, if you keep looking at yourself in the mirror despite those feelings, they will eventually subside as you get used to your body and begin to appreciate all that is positive about it.


So next time you're in the bathroom getting ready for the day, don't hide from the mirror. Rather, look into it, embrace it, and through doing so embrace yourself as well.


References:

Moreno-Dominguez, S., et al., 2012. "Pure versus guided mirror exposure to reduce body dissatisfaction: A preliminary study with university women", Body Image, 9(2), 285-288