One of the main limitations of body image research, and thus of the understanding of body image, is that body image is usually researched in terms of appearance. However, the body is much more than its appearance. Namely, the body is also functional. This aspect of the body is called body functionality. In the present article I describe the concept of body functionality and provide experimental evidence to demonstrate that body functionality is a vital aspect of a positive body image. Furthermore, I discuss two of my own intervention studies, wherein I manipulated a focus on body functionality in order to improve body image. Lastly, I off er suggestions for research that is necessary to better understand body functionality and to expand the understanding of body image.

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Wie aan het begrip ‘lichaamsbeeld’ denkt, denkt vooral aan het uiterlijk. Ook het meeste onderzoek naar het lichaamsbeeld is gericht op het uiterlijk. Dit is een van de grootste beperkingen van lichaamsbeeldonderzoek, want een belangrijk deel van het lichaamsbeeld wordt vergeten, namelijk lichaamsfunctionaliteit. Wat houdt lichaamsfunctionaliteit precies in, vraagt Jessica Alleva zich af. En waarom is die functionaliteit zo belangrijk voor een positief, gezond lichaamsbeeld?

Lichaamsbeeld is het subjectieve beeld dat mensen vormen van hun eigen lichaam (Schilder, 1935). Anders gezegd, het lichaamsbeeld wordt bepaald door de manier waarop het individu zijn lichaam waarneemt – niet door hoe zijn lichaam er in de realiteit uitziet. Het lichaamsbeeld heeft meerdere facetten. Het bestaat uit een cognitief en affectief aspect (hoe mensen over hun lichaam denken en voelen), een perceptueel aspect (hoe mensen de vorm en grootte van hun lichaam en lichaamsdelen schatten), en een gedragsaspect (onder andere wat mensen doen om hun lichaam te veranderen of te verbergen; Garner & Garfinkel, 1981; Rosen et al., 1989; Thompson et al., 1999)172935. Sommige onderzoekers beweren dat het lichaamsbeeld centraal staat bij de kwaliteit van het leven (Cash & Pruzinsky, 2002). Dit is niet verrassend als men kijkt naar de effecten van een negatief lichaamsbeeld – wat een opmerkelijke 60% van alle vrouwen en 40% van alle mannen hebben (Garner, 1997; Tiggemann, 2004)1636. Een negatief lichaamsbeeld wordt gekenmerkt door ontevredenheid


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