Body dissatisfaction in women in the United States is common. We explored how women from various racial and ethnic groups used figural stimuli by exploring differences in current and preferred silhouette, and their discrepancy. We surveyed 4,023 women ages 25-45 in an on-line investigation. Participants were identified using a national quota-sampling procedure. Asian women chose a smaller silhouette to represent their current body size, which did not remain significant after adjusting for self-reported BMI. After controlling for BMI, African American women selected a smaller silhouette than White women to represent their current size. Both African American and women reporting “Other” race preferred larger silhouettes than White women even after controlling for BMI. The discrepancy score revealed lower body dissatisfaction among African American than White women. Understanding factors that promote body satisfaction differentially across racial and ethnic groups could become a tool in appropriately tailored interventions designed to prevent eating disorders.
body image; figural stimuli; body mass index; race; ethnicity
Previous research has found concurrent and prospective associations between negative mood and body dissatisfaction; however, only experimental research can establish causal relationships. This study utilized an experimental design to examine the influence of negative mood on body dissatisfaction. Undergraduate women were randomly assigned to an experimental or control condition. Participants in the experimental condition (n = 21) completed a negative mood induction procedure. Participants in the control condition (n = 24) completed a neutral mood procedure. All participants completed visual analogue scales regarding their mood and satisfaction with weight and shape before and after each manipulation. Body dissatisfaction increased following the procedure for experimental but not control participants, suggesting that negative mood caused increased body dissatisfaction. In cultures that idealize thinness, body dissatisfaction may arise from funneling general feelings of dysphoria into more concrete and culturally meaningful negative feelings about the body.
body image; experiment; negative affect; undergraduate women
This study examined whether the association between adolescent weight status and body image varies by social engagement. A nationally representative sample of 6,909 students in grades 6 to 10 completed the 2006 HBSC survey. Separate linear regressions for boys and girls, controlling for age, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, were conducted with an interaction term (weight status x social engagement). Adolescents’ overweight/obese status was related to body dissatisfaction. Social engagement moderated the relationship between weight status and body image for girls but not for boys. Overweight/obese boys had more body dissatisfaction compared to their normal/underweight peers, regardless of their social engagement. However, overweight/obese girls with more social engagement were more likely to have body satisfaction compared to overweight/obese girls with less social engagement. Encouraging adolescent girls to develop healthy relationships with peers may prevent them from developing body dissatisfaction.
Body Image; Adolescents; Obesity; Social Engagement
In the present study we used longitudinal methods to examine body image development during the early part of college. Students (N = 390; 54% female) who identified as African American (32%), Latino/a American (27%), and European American (41%) completed surveys during their first, second, and third semesters at college. There were overall gender and racial/ethnic differences in all three aspects of body image, and both stability and change in body image development. Female students’ appearance evaluation became more positive, whereas male students’ appearance evaluation showed no significant change. Individuals’ body areas satisfaction increased over time, but remained stable when controlling for BMI. Appearance orientation did not change, and there were no racial/ethnic differences in body image development. Experiences in the college environment may play a role in these trends.
body image development; longitudinal design; college students; gender; race/ethnicity
Entertainment magazine websites provide a continuous stream of celebrity news accessed by over 13 million unique viewers each month. Celebrities’ experiences of pregnancy and new motherhood appear to be popular topics within these media outlets; however, little research has investigated the content of this coverage. In this study, investigators coded articles (N = 387) published between August 1, 2007 and August 1, 2008 on three popular entertainment magazine websites. Relatively few articles about celebrities’ pregnancies discussed weight (13%) or shape (30%), and an even smaller proportion (6.2%) included any discussion of postpartum body dissatisfaction. This suggests a gap between portrayal of celebrities’ pregnancies and postpartum experiences and those of non-celebrity women. This disparity is concerning as it might lead to unrealistic expectations about pregnancy and postpartum for both pregnant readers and a more general audience. This study provides important initial information about the messages these media provide regarding pregnancy-related appearance.
entertainment magazines; celebrity; objectification; pregnancy; postpartum; thin ideal
Female athletes are at least as at risk as other women for eating disorders (EDs) and at risk for the female athlete triad (i.e., inadequate energy availability, menstrual disorders, and osteoporosis). This study investigated whether two evidence-based programs appear promising for future study if modified to address the unique needs of female athletes. Athletes were randomly assigned to athlete-modified dissonance prevention or healthy weight intervention (AM-HWI). ED risk factors were assessed pre/post-treatment, and 6-week and 1-year follow-up. Results (analyzed sample N = 157) indicated that both interventions reduced thin-ideal internalization, dietary restraint, bulimic pathology, shape and weight concern, and negative affect at 6 weeks, and bulimic pathology, shape concern, and negative affect at 1 year. Unexpectedly we observed an increase in students spontaneously seeking medical consultation for the triad. Qualitative results suggested that AM-HWI may be more preferred by athletes.
Eating Disorders; Prevention; Athletes; Cognitive Dissonance; Healthy Weight
Silhouette measures are one approach to assessing body dissatisfaction in children, although little is known about their use among racially diverse, overweight girls seeking weight-loss treatment. This study assessed racial differences in body dissatisfaction and body size perceptions of 58 girls (ages 6–11, 66% Black, 34% White) participating in a randomized trial for pediatric overweight. Body dissatisfaction did not differ between races; 99% of girls reported an ideal figure smaller than their current one. Black girls selected a larger silhouette to represent their ideal body size, and most girls in both racial groups underestimated their actual size. Outcomes strengthen the argument that, despite an overall preference for a larger body size, obesity might mitigate cultural factors that protect Black girls from body dissatisfaction. Additional research is needed to enhance understanding of children’s body size perceptions and dissatisfaction to inform assessment and treatment of pediatric obesity and associated disordered eating symptoms.
overweight; obesity; child; Black; body dissatisfaction; silhouette measure
The aim of the current study was to add to the growing body of research on men with eating disorders by examining the association between different types of body dissatisfaction (muscularity and body fat) and disordered eating in heterosexual and gay men. Two hundred four participants (over one-third were gay) completed measures assessing disordered eating, muscularity and body fat dissatisfaction, and sexual orientation. Body fat dissatisfaction, but not muscularity dissatisfaction, predicted disordered eating, dietary restraint, and concerns about weight and eating in gay and heterosexual men. These findings were consistent across all measures of body fat and muscularity dissatisfaction, providing stronger evidence that body fat dissatisfaction may be a greater risk factor for disordered eating in both gay and heterosexual college aged men than muscularity dissatisfaction.
eating disorders; body image; body dissatisfaction; muscularity; leanness; human males; sexual orientation
The current study examines how body satisfaction of pregnant women compares to that of nonpregnant women. The sample included 68 pregnant and 927 nonpregnant young women who participated in a population-based longitudinal study examining eating and weight concerns in young adults. Body satisfaction was assessed using a 10-item modified version of the Body Shape Satisfaction Scale. The longitudinal design allowed for the assessment of body satisfaction among women both prior to and during their pregnancy. Mean body satisfaction was higher in pregnant women (32.6, 95% CI: 30.7–34.5) than nonpregnant women (29.6, 95% CI: 29.1–30.1) with moderate effect size 0.32, after adjusting for body satisfaction and body mass index prior to pregnancy, indicating that pregnant women experienced a significant increase in body satisfaction from the time prior to their pregnancy (p = .003) despite weight gain. These findings have important implications for clinicians delivering weight-related messages to women during pregnancy.
body satisfaction; pregnancy; young adult
The current study examined self-worth and body size dissatisfaction, and their association with maternal acculturation among obese Latino youth enrolled in a community-based obesity intervention program. Upon entry to the program, a sample of 113 participants reported global self-worth comparable to general population norms, but lower athletic competence and perception of physical appearance. Interestingly, body size dissatisfaction was more prevalent among younger respondents. Youth body size dissatisfaction was associated with less acculturated mothers and higher maternal dissatisfaction with their child's body size. By contrast, although global self-worth was significantly related to body dissatisfaction, it was not influenced by mothers’ acculturation or dissatisfaction with their own or their child’s body size. Obesity intervention programs targeted to Latino youth need to address self-worth concerns among the youth as well as addressing maternal dissatisfaction with their children’s body size.
self-worth; body size dissatisfaction; acculturation; obese Latino youth
The purpose of this study was to examine longitudinal connections among young adolescent heterosocial involvement (i.e., mixed-sex interactions), peer pressure for thinness, and body dissatisfaction. Three years of self-report questionnaire data were collected from 88 adolescent girls as they completed 6th through 8th grades. Results indicated that the relation between heterosocial involvement and body dissatisfaction was mediated by perceived peer pressure for thinness. Within this model, heterosocial involvement was associated with greater peer pressure for thinness. In turn, peer pressure for thinness was associated with greater body dissatisfaction. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for prevention and intervention efforts aimed at girls during their middle-school years.
Mixed-Sex Interactions; Peer Relations; Adolescence; Girls; Body Image; Body Dissatisfaction
Body checking includes any behavior aimed at global or specific evaluations of appearance characteristics. Men and women are believed to express these behaviors differently, possibly reflecting different socialization. However, there has been no empirical test of the impact of gender on body checking. A total of 1024 male and female college students completed two measures of body checking, the Body Checking Questionnaire and the Male Body Checking Questionnaire. Using multiple group confirmatory factor analysis, differential item functioning (DIF) was explored in a composite of these measures. Two global latent factors were identified (female and male body checking severity), and there were expected gender differences in these factors even after controlling for DIF. Ten items were found to be unbiased by gender and provide a suitable brief measure of body checking for mixed gender research. Practical applications for body checking assessment and theoretical implications are discussed.
Thin-ideal internalization (TII) reflects agreement that thinness equates with beauty. TII is a risk factor for body dissatisfaction and eating pathology; this phenomenon and its correlates, however, are just beginning to be studied in Latina undergraduates. This study examined the ability of self-esteem, social support, and collectivism to predict TII in Latina undergraduates. It was hypothesized that higher levels of self-esteem, social support, and collectivism would predict lower levels of TII. Cross-sectional data were analyzed using multiple regression; the model was significant, p < .01. Although both self-esteem and social support negatively correlated with thin-ideal internalization, only self-esteem accounted for a significant amount of variance. Results indicate that investigations of self-esteem as a protective factor against TII in Latina undergraduates would be fruitful, as would how self-esteem and social support affect the relationship between TII and other variables. Implications and limitations are discussed.
thin-ideal internalization; Latina undergraduates; self-esteem; social support; collectivism
Weight teasing is common among adolescents, but less is known about the continuation of this experience during young adulthood. The present study uses survey data from a diverse sample of 2,287 young adults, who participated in a 10-year longitudinal study of weight-related issues to examine hurtful weight comments by family members or a significant other. Among young adults, 35.9% of females and 22.8% of males reported receiving hurtful weight-related comments by family members, and 21.2% of females and 23.8% of males with a significant other had received hurtful weight-related comments from this source. Hispanic and Asian young adults and overweight/obese young adults were more likely to report receiving comments than those in other groups. Weight teasing during adolescence predicted hurtful weight-related comments in young adulthood, with some differences by gender. Findings suggest that hurtful weight talk continues into young adulthood and is predicted by earlier weight teasing experiences.
Weight teasing; romantic relationships; emerging adults; young adults
While levels of weight bias vary among individuals, it is not clear why one person possesses stronger anti-fat attitudes than another person. This investigation examined whether individual differences commonly associated with greater anti-fat bias are also associated with a greater preference for thinness among people of varying levels of weight. Young adults (62% women; 84% Caucasian) recruited from psychology classes (N = 308) rated four male and female figures with approximate BMIs of 18.5, 25, 30, and 40, on measures of dislike and personality characteristics and completed measures assessing weight controllability, attitudes toward the obese, and perceptual reliance. Greater negative attitudes, weight controllability beliefs, and perceptual reliance were positively associated with greater dislike and negative personality attributes among obese/severely obese figures, but inversely related among low normal weight figures. Individuals who judge others based on physical features or who view obesity as controllable evidence greater weight bias and a stronger preference for thin body types.
This study investigated whether magazine exposure is related to stereotypical beliefs about tanned women. A survey of White college women (n = 205) assessed their exposure to beauty/fashion and health/fitness magazines. Outcome variables were the beliefs that tanned women are fashionable, fit, and shallow. Attention to the tanned women’s images in health magazines positively predicted the belief that tanned women are fit and that tanned women are shallow; in contrast, attention to the images in beauty magazine negatively predicted the belief that tanned women are fit. Number of beauty magazines women read negatively predicted the belief that tanned women are shallow. The belief that tanned women are fit was unrelated, but the belief that tanned women are shallow was negatively related, with tanning attitudes.
body image; tan; media; women; stereotypes
This study tested the efficacy of an Internet-based prevention program, Trouble on the Tightrope: In Search of Skateboard Sam, on pubertal knowledge, body esteem, and self-esteem. One hundred ninety participants (mean age 11.6 years) were randomized to either an intervention or attention placebo control condition and were assessed at baseline, after 3 Internet-based sessions, and at 3-month follow-up. Although the primary hypotheses were not supported, exploratory moderator analyses indicated that the intervention was beneficial for select students. Specifically, pubertal status moderated the effects on weight-related body esteem and several domains of self-esteem, resulting in positive effects for participants in the intervention group who had begun puberty. Gender differences were found on self-esteem subscales, indicating more robust effects for girls than boys. Tailored Internet programs based on personal characteristics such as gender and pubertal status may be a fruitful area for future research with adolescents.
puberty; body image; early adolescence; Internet; self-esteem
Previous studies have consistently observed that women are more likely to perceive themselves as overweight compared to men. Similarly, women are more likely than men to report trying to lose weight. Less is known about the impact that self-perceived weight has on weight loss behaviors of adults and whether this association differs by gender. We conducted a cross-sectional analysis among an employee sample to determine the association of self-perceived weight on evidence-based weight loss behaviors across genders, accounting for body mass index (BMI) and demographic characteristics. Women were more likely than men to consider themselves to be overweight across each BMI category, and were more likely to report attempting to lose weight. However, perceiving oneself to be overweight was a strong correlate for weight loss attempts across both genders. The effect of targeting accuracy of self-perceived weight status in weight loss interventions deserves research attention.
Perceived weight; weight loss attempts; gender; body mass index
Dysmorphic appearance concern encompasses preoccupation with a perceived appearance defect, defect checking and camouflaging, and social avoidance. The current study sought to evaluate the internal consistency, factor structure, and convergent validity of a measure of dysmorphic appearance concern, the Body Image Concern Inventory, as well as evaluate the psychometric properties of a Spanish version of the instrument. Women recruited as part of a reproductive clinic based clinical trial completed the BICI and other self-report measures of distress. A total of 1,043 women completed the measures in English (M = 29 years, range = 18–55 years) and 573 women completed the measures in Spanish (M = 32 years, range = 18–55 years). Both the English and Spanish BICI were internally consistent and correlated moderately with measures of current psychological distress (STAI-S, CES-D). Confirmatory factor analyses replicated the measure’s proposed factor structure. Applications of the BICI for future research are discussed.
body image; dysmorphic appearance concern; body dysmorphic disorder; eating disorders
This study tested the psychometric characteristics of the Body Morph Assessment version 2.0 (BMA 2.0). A sample of 563 adults composed of four groups classified by gender and ethnicity (Caucasian men and women and African-American men and women) were studied. Support for the internal consistency and test–retest reliability of the BMA 2.0 was found for both men and women. A study of convergent validity was conducted. The BMA 2.0 was found to have adequate reliability and validity. Norms were established for the BMA 2.0 estimates of current body size (CBS), ideal body size (IBS), and acceptable body size (ABS) for Caucasian and African-American men and women. In summary, the BMA 2.0 is a reliable and valid computerized measure of CBS, IBS, ABS, the CBS–IBS discrepancy (body dissatisfaction), and provides an estimate of over/underestimation of body size as compared to individuals of the same sex and body mass index.
Body image; Eating disorders; Obesity; Morph; Body image assessment
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a relatively common and often disabling disorder with high morbidity and mortality. Both psychotropic medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are considered first-line treatments for BDD, and medication treatment is often essential for more severely ill and suicidal patients. In this practical overview of the pharmacotherapy of BDD, we briefly describe BDD’s clinical features, associated morbidity, and how to recognize and diagnose BDD. We describe the importance of forming a therapeutic alliance with the patient, the need for psychoeducation, and other essential groundwork for successful treatment of BDD. We review available pharmacotherapy research, with a focus on serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, or SRIs), which are currently considered the medication of choice for BDD. Many patients have substantial improvement in core BDD symptoms, psychosocial functioning, quality of life, suicidality, and other aspects of BDD when treated with appropriate pharmacotherapy that targets BDD symptoms. We also discuss practical issues such as dosing, length of treatment, and potential side effects associated with the use of SRIs. In addition, we discuss pharmacotherapy approaches that can be tried if SRI treatment alone is not adequately helpful. Finally, some misconceptions about pharmacotherapy, gaps in knowledge about BDD’s treatment, and the need for additional research are discussed.
Evidence suggests that substantial proportions of adolescents, regardless of ethnicity or gender, are engaged in excessive weight control behaviors. Crago and Shisslak (2003), however, have noted that small samples and poorly validated instruments have limited the value of previous ethnic difference studies. Using the McKnight Risk Factor Survey, we compared Native American, White, and Hispanic adolescents. Native students were divided into groups with one (NA-mixed) or two (NA) Native American biological parents. Surveys were completed by 5th through 10th grade students. BMI z-scores were significantly higher for boys and girls in the NA group, and boys in this group were significantly more engaged in weight control behaviors, including purging. A higher percentage of Native and Hispanic girls preferred a larger body size. BMI was positively correlated with weight and shape concerns and with weight control behaviors, regardless of ethnicity or gender. Overweight among Native adolescents may put them at greater risk for eating problems than their White peers.
BMI; body image; weight concern; eating disorders; risk factors; weight control behaviors; size preference; McKnight Risk Factor Survey
Lower smoking cessation rates are associated with body image concerns in the general population. This relationship is particularly important to study in individuals living with HIV/AIDS due to alarmingly high smoking rates and considerable bodily changes experienced with HIV disease progression and treatment. The association between body image and smoking cessation rates was examined among individuals living with HIV/AIDS participating in a smoking cessation intervention. Body image concerns were significantly associated with depression, anxiety, stress, and social support, all variables known to affect cessation rates. However, reduced quit rates were found among individuals reporting elevated and low levels of body image concerns at the end of treatment. These findings suggest a unique relationship between smoking and body image among individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Further research is needed to examine these effects and whether moderate levels of body image concerns in this population reflect realistic body perceptions associated with positive mental health.
body image; smoking; smoking cessation; HIV; AIDS
This study examined whether rural adolescents would report gender and ethnic differences in body image similar to those that have been observed in urban samples. Data were analyzed for 384 rural adolescents (57% African American, 43% Caucasian, mean age 13 yr) to determine gender and ethnic differences in body dissatisfaction, body size discrepancy, and current and ideal figure ratings. Females wanted to be smaller and reported more body dissatisfaction than did males. Caucasian females reported the most body dissatisfaction. African Americans reported larger current and ideal figure ratings than did Caucasians. African Americans preferred larger opposite sex figures than did Caucasians. Both African American and Caucasian males selected a larger female figure as ideal than was selected by females. Results demonstrated that gender and ethnic differences exist in body image for rural adolescents. This frequently overlooked population may benefit from further study. Implications of findings and limitations of the study are also discussed.
Gender differences; Ethnic differences; Body Image; Rural; Adolescents