Journeys of Embodiment at the Intersection of Body and Culture - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128054109, 9780128094211

Journeys of Embodiment at the Intersection of Body and Culture

1st Edition

The Developmental Theory of Embodiment

Authors: Niva Piran
eBook ISBN: 9780128094211
Paperback ISBN: 9780128054109
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 20th September 2017
Page Count: 336
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Journeys of Embodiment at the Intersection of Body and Culture: The Developmental Theory of Embodiment describes an innovative developmental and feminist theory—understanding embodiment—to provide a new perspective on the interactions between the social environment of girls and young women of different social locations and their embodied experience of engagement with the world around them. The book proposes that the multitude of social experiences described by girls and women shape their body experiences via three core pathways: experiences in the physical domain, experiences in the mental domain and experiences related directly to social power.

The book is structured around each developmental stage in the body journey of girls and young women, as influenced by their experience of embodiment. The theory builds on the emergent constructs of ‘embodiment’ and ‘body journey,’ and the key social experiences which shape embodiment throughout development and adolescence—from agency, functionality and passion during early childhood to restriction, shame and varied expressions of self-harm during and following puberty.

By addressing not only adverse experiences at the intersection of gender, social class, ethnocultural grouping, resilience and facilitative social factors, the theory outlines constructive pathways toward transformation. It contends that both protective and risk factors are organized along these three pathways, with the positive and negative aspects conceptualized as Physical Freedom (vs. Corseting), Mental Freedom (vs. Corseting), and Social Power (vs. Disempowerment and Disconnection).

Key Features

  • Examines the construct of embodiment and its theoretical development
  • Explores the social experiences that shape girls throughout development
  • Recognizes the importance of the body and sexuality
  • Includes narratives by girls and young women on how they inhabit their bodies
  • Invites scholars and health professionals to critically reflect on the body journeys of diverse girls and women
  • Addresses the advancement of feminist, social critical and psychological theory, as well as implications to practice—both therapy and health promotion


Researchers and students in psychology, gender studies, sociology, anthropology, social critical theory, and mental health professionals

Table of Contents

  1. The Developmental Theory of Embodiment: Discovering Paths in Girls' and Women's Unchartered Body Journeys
    2. Qualified Freedom on Borrowed Territory: Early Childhood (to Age 8)
    3. Intense Transitions: Tweens (Ages 9-12)
    4. The Practice of Corseting: Early Adolescence (Ages 13-14)
    5. The "Perfection" of Corseting: Late Adolescence (Ages 15-18)
    6. Re-Capturing Qualified Freedom, Possibilities: Young Adulthood (Ages 19-30) and Beyond
    7. Charting a Different Future: Repossession of Bodies Appendix: Methodological Innovations and Implications for Future Research


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2017
Academic Press
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About the Author

Niva Piran

Dr. Niva Piran is a clinical psychologist, school consultant, and professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. A Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Academy of Eating Disorders, she is internationally recognized for her innovative work on body image development, and the treatment and prevention of eating disorders. Dr. Piran is the recipient of multiple awards, including the 2009 Florence Denmark Distinguished Mentorship Award by the Association of Women in Psychology. Her research has received ongoing support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. A frequent international presenter, Dr. Piran is the co-editor of three books and author of over 100 scientific publications.

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada


"In this remarkable and engaging book, Piran allows us to see into the worlds of girls and women across the lifespan and to hear their often confronting and poignant body journey narratives.  Anchored in these narratives, she has described a new multidimensional theory of the development of embodied experiences - the Developmental Theory of Embodiment, which will certainly guide future practice and research in the field.  This book is also an inspiring call to action to create environments in which girls and women can recapture embodied experiences of agency, functionality and passion."

-Susan Paxton, Ph.D., FAED, FAPS, Professor, School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

"Dr. Piran is the leading expert on the topic of embodiment in young women and this book pulls together her life’s work on research, theory development, and application. I picked up the book and could barely put it down. While rich in theory, the text reads very easily due to the inclusion of various stories of body journeys of girls and women. Dr. Piran writes so beautifully about the Theory of Embodiment, which she has developed. As a long-time researcher on body image, a mother, a yoga teacher, and an adult woman with my own body journey, I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning about, and improving, the lives of girls and women.

-Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD, Professor and Division Head, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, US

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