chat loading...
Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

*Women's and Gender Studies Subject Guide: Topic: Body Image


Topic: Body Image

Quick Tips:

Get a Feel for the Conversation

What are the different perspectives on issues related to body image? Collecting diverse opinions can lead you to a more nuanced understanding of the topic, and can tell you where the 'charged' issues are in the current public conversation. See the Opposing Viewpoints resources listed below for a selection of opinion editorials (and more) on the topic of body image.

Consider Demographics

What population(s) are you focusing on? teenagers? college-age students? men? women? women of color? women in a particular country? Though there can be overlap among demographics, each group will likely have its own influencing factors related to body image, and it is important to recognize what those are in order to render an accurate representation in your research. 

Specificity Adds Interest

It's good to keep the big picture in mind when conducting research, but consider tying the larger context to a specific artifact or example that you can explore in depth and detail. Artifacts could include types of women's shoes, lingerie, hair styles, muscle mass ideals, etc. Exploring one artifact in detail adds interest and specificity, while tying the artifact back to larger themes maintains context. 

Topic Breakdown

Taking the research interest that's in your mind and translating it into keyword searches can be challenging. Below is a sample breakdown of the process:

Research Question: ''How does social media influence how young women view their bodies?"

We want to break this idea into key terms, and supplement those terms with synonyms and related concepts found during our background research. 

Sample Key Terms'social media,' 'body image' and 'girls' come to mind, but also consider 'adolescents', 'self esteem', 'self image', etc. Remember to include keywords related to potential subtopics, such as 'body surveillance', 'photo editing,' 'social comparison', 'mental health' etc.

Putting it All Together: These keywords are the building blocks of several searches on the same topic, as we'll want to try variations of our search to pull the best selection.

Sample search strings: ''self image'' AND "self esteem" AND girls    or  "social media" AND girls AND "self image"

See how one of the sample search strings plays out in the library's ProQuest Central database. We would want to do several additional variations on other aspects of the topic to get a full picture.

Profile Photo
HPU Libraries
chat loading...
Smith Library: 336.841.9101

Wanek Learning Commons: 336.841.9002

Suggested Search Terms

Continue to build a word bank of search terms related to your specific focus, but here are some suggested terms:

body confidence

body positivity

self esteem

beauty standards



peer influence

eating disorder

body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

muscle dysmorphia (MD)




body shaming

social comparison

digital manipulation