About the lab

The Wellness Equity Advancing through Research & Education in Mindful Embodiment, Kindness, Yoga, and Non-Dieting Lab (WE ARE MIND-BODY KYND) at UNC Charlotte studies the application of integrative mind-body approaches (e.g., the practices of yoga, mindful and intuitive eating, and self-compassion) and Health at Every Size® principles to optimize a more holistic experience of health and well-being in culturally-diverse groups. We have a particular emphasis on increasing access to evidence-based behavioral approaches to strengthen the embodied well-being of individuals of diverse and intersecting social identities during the developmental transitions of college, pregnancy, and the postpartum period.

Featured projects (1)

I undertook this project for my dissertation. This mixed-methods research evaluated the feasibility of a guided self-help program for college-aged women who endorse body image concerns. The intervention utilized the book Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield, which incorporates elements of positive psychology and third-wave behavioral approaches. Participant recruitment and data collection took place in Fall 2019. Data were analyzed and the project was defended in Spring 2020. I am currently preparing a manuscript based on the project and will be presenting results at the 2020 ABCT virtual conference in poster format.

Featured research (10)

Birth doulas were deemed "non-essential" personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic and were generally excluded from attending hospital births in person. This study documents the impacts of pandemic-related contextual factors on birth doula care in the San Francisco Bay Area, examines how doulas adapted their services, and explores implications for policy and practice. We employed a contextually bound qualitative case study methodology driven by social action theory and conducted interviews with 15 birth doulas. The pandemic disrupted physical settings, the social environment, communication modalities, contractual arrangements, and organizational level factors. The historical context also amplified awareness of institutionalized racism in birth settings and highlighted birth doulas' advocacy role. Striking deficits exist in birth doulas' integration into US healthcare systems; this made their services uniquely vulnerable to the pandemic circumstances. Birth doulas' value ought to be more formally recognized within health policy, health insurance, and hospital systems as complementary care to that provided by medical providers to improve access to high-quality perinatal care.
The predominant approach of existing eating disorder prevention programs targets risk factors for development; furthermore, burgeoning evidence suggests that promotion of protective factors against eating disorders (e.g., positive body image) is also a worthy avenue for prevention efforts. The present study considered existing literature gaps in the design of an 8-week guided self-help intervention meant to address the risk for disordered eating through the improvement of positive body image and enhancement of current adaptive functioning. The intervention incorporated elements of weight-inclusive health promotion (e.g., Health at Every Size; HAES) alongside positive psychology and third-wave behavioral interventions [e.g., self-compassion, mindful eating, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)] to promote engagement in mindful-self-care. This mixed-methods study evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of the text-messaging based intervention in a diverse sample of cisgender college women (N = 30; 30% Black; 30% bisexual) at risk for disordered eating. Results indicated a high level of engagement and satisfaction with the intervention. Proof of concept was preliminarily supported by the observed significant changes in variables of interest (i.e., body appreciation, positive embodiment, mindful self-care, intuitive eating, self-compassion, disordered eating, and body image dissatisfaction) across the intervention. Overall, results of this study suggest that the use of a guided self-help program based in technology which seeks to reduce risk factors for disordered eating while also supporting adaptive functioning may be indicated for emerging adult women. This article will discuss how the present study provides the groundwork for continued development of innovative and remotely accessible interventions which promote positive body image.
The present pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluated the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a 4-week online yoga and body gratitude journaling intervention for strengthening positive embodiment among racially-diverse higher weight college women. Seventy-five participants were initially randomized to either the yoga condition (n = 36) or to a wait-list control (n = 39). Participants completed measures of positive and negative body image, weight bias internalization, self-compassion, drive for leanness, and physical activity acceptance at both baseline and post. Preliminary results among the 42 analyzed completers (mean age = 20.9, SD = 2.4; 30% Black or African American) revealed acceptable feasibility given the low-intensity nature of the intervention reflected in a 36% attrition rate. Self-reported adherence was strong for the yoga component with 81% of participants indicating that they practiced with the videos > 3-4 times per week as suggested. Although 71% reported completing the body gratitude journal > 1-2 times per week, daily adherence was minimal. Acceptability was also high among participants randomized to the yoga condition as indicated by 86% expressing at least moderate levels of satisfaction with the overall program. Qualitative feedback from participants further supported the acceptability of the program and pointed to important areas in further refining the protocol in the future. Preliminary efficacy was supported by significant reductions in internal body shame and gains in body appreciation, functional body appreciation, functional body satisfaction, functional body awareness, and behavioral commitment to physical activity engagement among the yoga versus wait-list control participants. These promising findings once replicated in larger, higher-powered trials may have important implications for extending the reach and accessibility of mind-body wellness practices like yoga to benefit racially-/ethnically-diverse college women of higher weight. This research is further responsive to the growing need for efficacious remotely-delivered, and scalable behavioral health interventions in the ongoing era of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, additional research is warranted to explore ways of enhancing engagement of participants with lower levels of positive embodiment and to further incentivize the journaling component of the intervention.
Extant research on body image supports sociocultural theories emphasizing the internalization of societal pressures to attain the thin-ideal, as well as other White or Eurocentric ideals that are predominant in mainstream media. While earlier research suggests that Black women are less likely to report body dissatisfaction and thin-ideal internalization compared to women of other racial backgrounds, recent studies argue that most measures of body image and appearance ideals may not be accurate assessments of body dissatisfaction for this population. In this paper, we summarize the literature over the past two decades on body image and appearance ideals among cisgender Black girls and women and discuss the applications of well-established sociocultural theories of body dissatisfaction. We additionally highlight existing gaps in culturally-sensitive theory and assessment tools and consider the benefits of applying intersectionality-informed research. We lastly propose future directions in research, assessment, and intervention to develop more culturally-sensitive approaches to identifying, assessing, and addressing body dissatisfaction among Black girls and women. This paper encourages researchers to apply culturally-sensitive and intersectionality-informed theory to improve efforts in assessing early warning signs of body dissatisfaction and developing effective interventions for this population.
This study investigated the effects of yoga on functionality appreciation, and the potential mechanisms that could explain the impact of yoga on additional facets of positive body image. Young adult women (N = 114; Mage = 22.19) were randomised to a 10-week Hatha yoga programme or waitlist control group. Participants completed measures of functionality appreciation, body appreciation, body compassion, appearance evaluation, self-objectification, and embodiment at Pretest, Midtest, Posttest, and 1-month Follow-Up. Follow-up data could not be analysed due to high levels of attrition. The remaining data showed that, compared to the control group, women in the yoga programme experienced lower self-objectification at Midtest and greater embodiment over time. Further, all participants experienced improvements in body appreciation, body compassion, and appearance evaluation over time, regardless of their assigned group. Lower self-objectification contributed to improvements in body appreciation and body compassion. In addition, greater embodiment contributed to improvements in body appreciation, body compassion, and appearance evaluation. Contrary to our expectations, yoga did not lead to increased functionality appreciation, nor was functionality appreciation a mediator of the impact of yoga on positive body image. Instead, lower self-objectification, and greater embodiment, drove improvements in positive body image.

Lab head

Jennifer B Webb
  • Department of Psychological Science; Health Psychology Ph.D. Program
About Jennifer B Webb
  • Jennifer B. Webb, PhD is an Associate Professor and a clinical health psychologist at UNC Charlotte where she directs the WE ARE MIND-BODY KYND Lab. She received her bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience from Harvard University, an MA in Psychology, and a PhD in Psychology both from the University of Southern California. Dr. Webb additionally completed a 2-year NIMH-funded T32 postdoctoral fellowship in clinical health psychology at Duke Integrative Medicine.

Members (8)

Margaret M. Quinlan
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Phoebe Butler-Ajibade
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Lena Etzel
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Jodie Lisenbee
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Jan Mooney
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Rachel Uri
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Tran Tran
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Lia Bauert
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Alumni (9)

Erin Vinoski Thomas
  • Georgia State University
Meagan Padro
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Alexandria Davies
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
Nadia Jafari
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte