for Body Image Theory, Research,
and Clinical Practice
THOMAS F. CASH
In this concluding chapter we take a "step back" to gain perspective on the many important ideas our contributors have made regarding how the field of body image can move forward—conceptually, scientifically, and clinically. Our goal here is not merely to summarize the key conclusions of our contributors. Rather, building from the previous 56 chapters, we articulate epigrammatic statements regarding our beliefs about the most important future directions for understanding body image functioning.
In order to organize these views about the future of body image theory, research, and clinical practice, we revisit the organization of the book and specify how progress can be made in understanding and applying this complex construct with respect to (1) conceptual foundations; (2) developmental perspectives; (3) assessment; (4) individual and cultural differences; (5) body image dysfunctions and disorders; (6) changing the body through medical, surgical, and other interventions; and (7) changing body image through psychosocial interventions.
Although we organize our discussion around these distinct areas, we also encourage recognition of the interconnections among them. It is evident that the preponderance of our recommendations pertains to elucidating conceptual foundations. Clearly, comprehensive elaboration and refinement of the boundaries and referents of the body image construct is a necessary prerequisite to progress in understanding body image development, assessment, dysfunction, and change.