The term body-conscious means the body and mind are related parts of a single system. By including the mind in our thinking about the body, we go beyond mere ergonomics (that is, the measuring of body parts) so that we can include educational and philosophical ideas about the body. Applied to design, body-consciousness means including ergonomic, psychological, and cultural perspectives all together. Body-conscious design is broader than ergonomics because it is not only focused on the biomechanics of the body, but also on the psychological and cultural feelings and beliefs that a person brings to understanding the body in relationship to the environment.
Industrial culture has a general problem regarding how we treat our bodies. We learn to see ourselves as interchangeable parts. We expect ourselves to fit into whatever is provided. Shoes are too tight; chairs create back problems; schools, offices, places of entertainment, and transportation limit our movements; and even our homes can be restrictive. Body Conscious Design proposes instead to take the body as a starting point. Designers could—and should—offer ways for people to adjust the environment to their sizes and shapes.