Thin-Ideal Internalization: Mounting Evidence for a New Risk Factor for Body-Image Disturbance and Eating Pathology

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internalization, body image, eating disturbance, risk factors, prevention

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Body-image disturbance and eating disorders are a significant physical and mental health problem in Western countries. We describe emerging work on one newly identified variable that appears to be a potent risk factor for the development of these problems internalization of societal standards of attractiveness. Work conducted independently in our labs over the past decade has included scale development, correlational studies, prospective risk-factor studies, randomized experiments, and randomized prevention trials. Findings collectively suggest that internalization is a causal risk factor for body-image and eating disturbances, and that it appears to operate in conjunction with other established risk factors for these outcomes, including dieting and negative affect. Future research is needed to examine the specific familial, peer, and media influences that promote internalization and to replicate and extend our prospective and experimental studies.

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Current Directions in Psychological Science, v. 10, issue 5, p. 181-183