Date of Award

8-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Maureen C. McHugh

Second Advisor

Beverly J. Goodwin

Third Advisor

Anson E. Long

Abstract

The current literature on shame and body image focuses primarily on issues of weight and shape, and the topic of Menstrual Shame is rarely mentioned. Menstrual Shame refers to the shame women feel about their menstrual cycle and menstrual fluid specifically (Johnson-Robledo & Chrisler, 2011).There is a culture of silence surrounding menstruation that prevents connection, contributes to shame, and increases Self-Objectification (Johnson-Robledo & Chrisler, 2013; McHugh, 2019).The shame and stigma surrounding women’s menstrual cycles has important implications for the development, sexuality, and overall wellbeing of girls and women.This research is designed to contribute to our understanding of Menstrual Shame in college age women and introduce an intervention in the form of a workshop to increase shame resiliency. Brene Brown’s 2006 Shame Resilience Theory provides the framework for understanding how to combat shame through acknowledging vulnerability, critical awareness, mutually emphatic relationships, and speaking shame. Undergraduate women (n=185) were administered the Beliefs About and Attitudes towards Menstruation Questionnaire(BATM), the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale (OBCS), and the Appearance and Capabilities Scale. Some of these participants (n=29) then participated in a 1.5-hour workshop on Menstrual Shame. Results indicate a significant change in participants’attitudes towards menstruation as well as in attention paid to the body’s capabilities. A qualitative analysis of participants’subjective experience of the workshop indicated that there was a change in attitudes towards menstruation and increased understanding of Menstrual Shame. Responses were analyzed through the framework of Brown’s Shame Resilience Theory (2006). Implications of the findings for clinical practice and future research are discussed. Suggestions for how to utilize the workshop with various populations and in various settings are provided.

Comments

The current literature on shame and body image focuses primarily on issues of weight and shape, and the topic of Menstrual Shame is rarely mentioned. Menstrual Shame refers to the shame women feel about their menstrual cycle and menstrual fluid specifically (Johnson-Robledo & Chrisler, 2011).There is a culture of silence surrounding menstruation that prevents connection, contributes to shame, and increases Self-Objectification (Johnson-Robledo & Chrisler, 2013; McHugh, 2019).The shame and stigma surrounding women’s menstrual cycles has important implications for the development, sexuality, and overall wellbeing of girls and women.This research is designed to contribute to our understanding of Menstrual Shame in college age women and introduce an intervention in the form of a workshop to increase shame resiliency. Brene Brown’s 2006 Shame Resilience Theory provides the framework for understanding how to combat shame through acknowledging vulnerability, critical awareness, mutually emphatic relationships, and speaking shame. Undergraduate women (n=185) were administered the Beliefs About and Attitudes towards Menstruation Questionnaire(BATM), the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale (OBCS), and the Appearance and Capabilities Scale. Some of these participants (n=29) then participated in a 1.5-hour workshop on Menstrual Shame. Results indicate a significant change in participants’attitudes towards menstruation as well as in attention paid to the body’s capabilities. A qualitative analysis of participants’subjective experience of the workshop indicated that there was a change in attitudes towards menstruation and increased understanding of Menstrual Shame. Responses were analyzed through the framework of Brown’s Shame Resilience Theory (2006). Implications of the findings for clinical practice and future research are discussed. Suggestions for how to utilize the workshop with various populations and in various settings are provided.

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