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‘Scars: How Our Wounds Make Us Who We Are’: Improving appearance-based stigma, conceptualisation of beauty and body esteem through a documentary

Mathews, Abigail; Costa, Bruna; Mikkola, Aida; Harcourt, Diana

‘Scars: How Our Wounds Make Us Who We Are’: Improving appearance-based stigma, conceptualisation of beauty and body esteem through a documentary Thumbnail


Authors

Abigail Mathews

Aida Mikkola

Diana Harcourt Diana2.Harcourt@uwe.ac.uk
Professor in Appearance Research



Abstract

Introduction

Those with an altered appearance as a result of injury, health condition or treatment can face stigma, which may contribute to adverse psychosocial outcomes. However, current research tends to focus on supporting individuals themselves to cope, rather than targeting societal stigma. This study aimed to reduce societal stigma towards this group, through the use of a documentary about people with scars.

Methods
146 adults completed questionnaires before and after viewing the documentary.

Results
After viewing, participants had reduced self-reported intentions to behave in a stigmatising way towards those with visible differences, broader conceptualisation of beauty, and more positive body-esteem. Qualitative data also suggested further positive impacts.

Conclusion
Those with visible differences (for example scars) are subject to societal stigmatisation which perpetuates psychological and social problems. Therefore, alleviating social stigma through the media, as demonstrated through the documentary in this study, may improve the lives of those living with visible differences.

Lay Summary
People with an altered appearance or scars as a result of injury, health condition or treatment can face stigma, which may contribute to harmful psychological and social outcomes. However, current research tends to focus on supporting affected individuals themselves to cope, rather than targeting societal stigma. This study aimed to find out whether a documentary about people with scars was successful at reducing viewers’ stigma towards this group. A group of 146 adults completed questionnaires before and after viewing the documentary. After viewing, questionnaires indicated that participants had reduced intentions to behave in a stigmatising way towards those with visible differences. Furthermore, they also viewed a broader range of appearances as beautiful and felt more positive about their own bodies. Comments and feedback from participants also suggested further positive impacts. Those with visible differences (for example scars) are subject to societal stigmatisation which can cause and worsen mental health problems. Therefore, alleviating social stigma through the media, as demonstrated through the documentary in this study, may improve the lives of those living with visible differences.

Citation

Mathews, A., Costa, B., Mikkola, A., & Harcourt, D. (2023). ‘Scars: How Our Wounds Make Us Who We Are’: Improving appearance-based stigma, conceptualisation of beauty and body esteem through a documentary. Scars, Burns & Healing, 9, https://doi.org/10.1177/20595131231205398

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 18, 2023
Online Publication Date Nov 16, 2023
Publication Date Dec 31, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 27, 2023
Publicly Available Date Sep 28, 2023
Journal Scars, Burns & Healing
Print ISSN 2059-5131
Publisher SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/20595131231205398
Keywords media, Visible difference, stigma, scars, intervention, appearance
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/11139893

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‘Scars: How Our Wounds Make Us Who We Are’: Improving appearance-based stigma, conceptualisation of beauty and body esteem through a documentary (114 Kb)
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Licence
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publisher Licence URL
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Copyright Statement
This paper has been accepted for publication in Scars, Burns & Healing.

Author(s), Contribution Title, Journal Title (Journal Volume Number and Issue Number) pp. xx-xx. Copyright © [year] (Copyright Holder). DOI: [DOI number].







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