Dr. Renee Engeln has been a professor for eleven years at Northwestern University, where she teaches about psychopathology, the psychology of women and gender, social psychology, and the psychology of human beauty. She is an award-winning professor, having amassed over a dozen teaching awards at both Loyola University and Northwestern University. In Spring 2017, Engeln’s book Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women (Harper) debuted.
In Beauty Sick, Engeln, whose TEDx talk on beauty sickness has received more than 300,000 views, reveals the shocking emotional, physical, and financial consequences of the cultural obsession with girls’ and women’sappearance, including depression, eating disorders, disruptions in cognitive processing, and lost money and time. Combining scientific studies with the voices of real girls and women, Engeln shares how women can break free from destructive attitudes and words—from body-shaming others to denigrating commentary about one’s own appearance. She also addresses how media campaigns that champion the “everyone is beautiful in their own way” mentality can be surprisingly damaging. She provides inspiration and workable solutions to help girls and women overcome negative attitudes, transform their lives, claim the futures they deserve, and, ultimately, change their world.
In addition to publishing numerous empirical journal articles and presenting at academic conferences, student groups, and gender studies programs on body image, fat talk, and the objectification of women, Engeln presents talks on these topics to groups around the country. For several years, she worked as a consultant for Kellogg’s Special K and their campaigns to create advertising that helps women feel more positive about their bodies. Engeln is regularly interviewed by media outlets, including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Today.com, The Huffington Post, Think Progress, numerous local/regional newspapers, and college student publications.
Praise for Dr. Renee Engeln:
"Renee Engeln’s presentation was spectacular! She is engaging and her message connected its everyone’s narrative. Considering this was first thing in the morning, she set the tone for the day, and we used her presentation as a jumping off point in a dialogue about the need to listen to multiple perspectives.”
--Lake Forest Academy
"I've seen Renee speak at two different universities now and she was extremely well received by students at both. Renee's research is fascinating and important. She has a powerful message to share about the way we talk to ourselves and each other and presents it in a way that is relatable and engaging. On a personal note, what I learned from Renee changed both the way I've done programming around body image within Higher Education and also has affected the way that speak. You won't be disappointed."
--Megan O’Hara, Office of Prevention and Education, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
“I had the pleasure of working with Renee in developing an event where she shared her expertise and research on Body Image. The audience was made up of clinicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and psychiatrists who all felt her presentation was informative, interesting and pertinent to their role in treating adolescents. Renee was organized, professional, and has a wealth of knowledge on this subject, resulting in an amazing event for our team.”
--Tamra Foy, Admission Coordinator, Elevations Residential Treatment Center; Syracuse, Utah
Praise for Beauty Sick:
“Girls learn that how they look is more important than who they are—the essential symptom of beauty sickness.’ But Engeln doesn’t stop at diagnosis: she offers the possibility of a cure.”
--Peggy Orenstein, New York Times bestselling author of Girls & Sex
“Her solid ideas...will help women think positively about themselves regardless of body shape. Thorough research and helpful personal stories effectively relay the dilemma that nearly all women face on a daily basis.”
-- Kirkus Reviews
“[Beauty Sick] will blow the top off the body image movement…provocative and necessary.”
“Renee Engeln...argues that our obsession with women’s looks amounts to a society-wide psychological illness...The book indicts social and news media in helping to create beauty sickness by drawing on research and interviews with real-world girls and women.”
“[P]rofessor Engeln’s sharp examination of beauty sickness reveals its disturbing impact on women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds...Engeln’s writing is engaging and conversational...Engeln’s book is thought provoking and will be fascinating for all readers, especially those interested in psychology, cultural studies, media, or gender studies.”
--Booklist (starred review)
“Inspiring.” -- PureWow
“Info-packed...highly readable...” --Elle
“Beauty Sick is the title of Engeln’s new book, which has more than 350 pages of exhaustive research, interviews, and analysis into the set of contradictions that inform the reality of millions of women’s lives.”
-- The Times (London)