Recently, VR has been implemented to help treat women who suffer from eating disorders. Women who suffer from eating disorders and self-esteem issues are able to boost their confidence through the help of virtual reality -- VR gives these women an escape from the thing that affects them the most: their own body.
While this VR treatment is still a fairly new method, women leave the treatment feeling more satisfied and accepting of themselves.
From the time a woman begins to go through puberty, she begins to feel more self conscious about her appearance and will most likely develop some feelings of insecurity at some point in their life. For some women, that period of insecurity is short lived, but it may drag on for years -- even decades -- for others.
Virtual reality is a new alternative to treat body image disturbance in lieu of traditional therapy
Traditional psychological therapy has been around for many decades, and is often resorted to if a woman feels negatively enough about her body. While psychiatric help is often very beneficial, a body image study introduces a new form of treatment that may rival traditional psychological therapy.
This new alternative puts women in a practically life-like environment where they can live out their fantasies about having their ideal body types. While traditional psychological therapy is used to help women accept themselves for who they are, VR treatment plays off of an idealistic concept to help women visualize what their dream bodies would look like.
An eating disorder study conducted in Spain implemented a form of virtual reality treatment; women who suffer from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa were put into VR environments with their ideal body types. Although the environment experience was short lived, many of the women left the study with higher levels of self-esteem because of how much they enjoyed having this ideal figure.
Women placed in a more flattering body showed increased levels of self esteem
The women reported that they were more so able to accept who they were in this environment, and that they were not as ashamed to be seen in public. With these higher levels of confidence, many women said that they did not feel as disheartened to eat afterwards as well. The self-esteem boost associated with VR treatment hopes to give women a more optimistic attitude about themselves, which hopefully turns into a higher overall satisfaction rating as well.
While women who suffer from eating disorders greatly benefitted from the VR treatment, there has been controversy surrounding this new method of treating patients. While it is beneficial to give women the experience of living in their ideal bodies, it can sometimes provide an unrealistic beauty standard if the women go to any extremes versus a more standard stomach size reduction or love handle and cellulite removal.
The insincerity of virtual reality treatment may be more detrimental than beneficial for women in the long run
Controversy arises when the women leave the VR treatment: although they have an immediate sense of satisfaction, it is not known how long these levels of confidence will last. There are speculations about whether the women will actually feel worse later on -- after they get to experience their ideal body, they do not know how long until they will be able to feel that satisfaction again.
Virtual reality is not always the answer, and research shows that there was no significant change in women who did not suffer from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder. The participants of this study reported to be dissatisfied with their bodies, but not to the same degree as women who suffer from eating disorders.
Women who do not suffer from eating disorders do not perceive their bodies differently within a virtual reality environment
During the experiment, the women were placed on a public transportation bus -- but with a more ideal body because of VR. Most of the women did not feel any different being in the virtual reality environment instead of real life, and reported next to no change in self-esteem after the experience was finished.
While the VR treatment benefitted women who suffer from eating disorders the most, it all comes down to perception at the end of the day.
|Source: Something for Kelly|
Women who feel so strongly about their bodies that are ashamed to go out in public will obviously see themselves as more flattering within a virtual reality environment. The women who were dissatisfied with their bodies noticed a change in the VR environment, but not enough to change their feelings about themselves.
Beauty, and especially weight, are stressed so highly in today’s society that many women often discourage themselves when they are unable to reach these unattainable standards of beauty. While there is nothing wrong about a person wanting to put their best face forward, it is a social construct -- an unfair one at that -- that all women must look a certain way in order to be deemed “beautiful.”
Virtual reality treatment helps women see themselves in a positive light, but the treatment must stay realistic in order to maintain the mental integrity of the women as well.