UNC psychologist Cynthia Bulik releases new book

With her newest book, Cynthia Bulik, PhD, aims to confront the societal pressures that women face when it comes to body esteem and self-esteem.

Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011

World-renowned UNC psychologist and eating disorders expert Cynthia Bulik helps women escape the body image trap in her newest book.

“It’s striking how often body esteem and self-esteem are conflated,” said Bulik, who is a distinguished professor of eating disorders at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.  With her newest book, “The Woman in the Mirror: How to Stop Confusing What You Look Like With Who You Are,” she aims to confront the societal pressures that females face when it comes to body esteem and self-esteem.

The book is a guide for women of all ages to empower themselves.  As director of the Eating Disorders Program at UNC, Bulik has experience studying the psyche of women, and how it affects their decisions regarding health and nutrition.

Her previous book “Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How To Stop” as well as “Runaway Eating: the Eight-Point Plan to Conquer Adult Food and Weight Obsessions,” which she co-authored, focused on eating disorders.  With her newest book, Dr. Bulik goes well beyond eating disorders to address the pressures, thought processes and feelings about body image that can undermine all women’s self-esteem.

“I’ve seen so many women being squashed and trapped by focusing on appearance,” said Bulik, who is also professor of nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC.  “Women are looking for the big exit sign that says ‘help me get out of this trap.’”

Bulik points out that through the years, hurtful comments often stick to women like Velcro whereas compliments tend to bounce off and disappear.  Bulik offers strategies for women to assess their pasts in order to rewrite their internal script.  By breaking down and analyzing hurtful comments, women can re-categorize and remove some of the effect they had on self-esteem.

The first half of the book is composed of stories about girls and women of all ages.  The second half offers rich exercises to help readers apply Bulik’s strategy for separating self-esteem and body esteem.  Bulik hopes this book can unite and inspire women of all ages.

The book received rave reviews even before it was released.

“[Bulik] offers practical advice on how women can regain control of their lives and end the harm they do to themselves both physically and emotionally.  Females must cultivate strategic awareness of negative self-talk – not only what it is, but when and where it arises – while also nurturing ‘the inner coach,’” said Kirkus Reviews.

Women are not the only ones who can benefit from reading this book.  “Guys should read this book, too,” Bulik joked.  “It might offer tips how to talk with women and shed some light on how women perceive what they’re saying.”

“The Woman in the Mirror: How to Stop Confusing What You Look Like with Who You Are” was released Dec. 20 by publisher Walker Books.

More information on the book is available online at www.womaninthemirrorbook.com.

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