Scientists think virtual reality might be able to help improve body image
Of course we’re ALWAYS looking for ways to feel more awesome about our bodies, and this time, it looks like science may have a solution for us. (Thanks science, you’re a real pal!)
As Medical Xpress reports, a recent study used a body-swapping illusion to show women representations of themselves in virtual reality with a flatter stomach. Here’s where things get a little crazy — women who saw themselves with flatter stomachs in the virtual world actually estimated their body size more accurately than when they were trying to estimate their body size with an exact virtual reality replica of their own body.
Wait, wait, wait . . . WHAT? So a little virtual reality digital retouching gives people a better sense of what they actually look like than . . . an image of what they actually look like? Future, you are crazy.
Apparently this virtual reality body-swapping may be able to change a person’s “allocentric memory,” or, how one perceives spatial representation. As those familiar with eating disorders and body dysmorphia know, people who live with these conditions often overestimate their body size, and these perceptions can often lead to dangerous behavior. It’s entirely possible that this kind of engagement with virtual reality could help those with body dysmorphia gain a more accurate sense of what they look like, and help these people have a healthier relationship with food, exercise, and, of course, their own bodies.
“This research provides a valuable first step in understanding of body image distortion and disturbance in those with eating disorders and obesity,” says Editor-in-Chief Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCB, BCN, Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, California and Virtual Reality Medical Institute, Brussels, Belgium. “Exploring the potential of this Virtual Reality approach in a clinical population will be an important next step.”
We’re so glad that science is making big strides in helping those who have unhealthy relationships with their bodies and self-image, and we have our fingers tightly crossed that this new use of virtual reality can really do some good for body positivity everywhere.
Image via Shutterstock