If our bodies aren’t functional, does it matter what we look like? Many times, when we talk about getting healthy we’re really using coded language to discuss something else – looking healthy. Clinical psychologist Tiffany Stewart takes us through the process of revolutionizing how we think about ourselves when it really matters – when the health of our bodies is on the line.
Body perception matters, which is why Dr. Tiffany Stewart, an LSU graduate with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, has devoted most of her career to research on how we view bodies as they relate to performance. Her work is leading a movement to focus beyond simple appearance notions to functional health. More than 10 years as a competitive gymnast helped spark Tiffany’s interest in behavioral medicine research, which she later combined with a love for technology. As the director of the Behavior Technology Laboratory at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Tiffany works to break the illusion of a perfect human form with apps and games that aim to improve health and performance. She takes cues from soldiers and athletes about what an “ideal” body really is and collaborates with local and national organizations to explore and illuminate the idea that a body’s idealized form and actual function are not always one and the same