13 Sept 2021

Body image issues loom large: Gemma Sharp gives three top KIT tips

Dr Gemma Sharp prepping for the documentary

When a distorted sense of yourself becomes pathological, you could have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). BDD is getting more common and more extreme. Why?

Dr Gemma Sharp was one of the experts interviewed in Channel 10's recently broadcast (8-9 September 2021) documentary "Mirror, Mirror" by Todd Sampson to answer that question. She also participated in the Facebook Live chat after the screening. See below for some of the questions asked. 

Dr Sharp has also won a grant from the Australian Psychological Society (APS) of Clinical Psychologists 2021 Research Grant Award for futher development of her team's world-first body image chatbot "KIT", which helps people experiencing body image concerns while they are on social media. The grant will be used to improve KIT's conversational abilities, with KIT having spoken with more than 20,000 people already! 

1) What advice do you have for teens to stay more body positive while using social media?

Since the problem arises in large part through overexposure to media and in particular social media, it can be controlled through reducing exposure. 

Dr Sharp says, "I have 3 top tips for teens. First, clean up your feed - unfollow people who make you feel bad about yourself and follow people who inspire you. Second, set an intention when you go on social media - it's very easy to just mindlessly scroll for hours. Third, check in with yourself regularly - if you are starting to feel bad about yourself, it's time to take a break. These tips and many others can be found by chatting with our body image chatbot KIT." 

2) What can I say to my child when they say they are feeling self-conscious about their body?

"Help your child remember that they are a whole person, not just their body or 'outer shell'. Help them remember their personal strengths like that they are a good friend etc."

3) Should advertising show more diverse body types? 

"Yes, definitely. Our research has shown that by exposing people to a diverse range of body types (e.g., older bodies, larger bodies, bodies of people of colour) we can actually shift what people consider to be the ideal body." 


Aniulis E, Sharp G, Thomas NA. The ever-changing ideal: The body you want depends on who else you're looking at. Body Image. 2021 Mar;36:218-229. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.12.003

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