The Role of Self-Objectification in the Experience of Women with Eating Disorders

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self-objectification eating disorders internalization sociocultural

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Objectification theory has linked self-objectification to negative emotional experiences and disordered eating behavior in cultures that sexually objectify the female body. This link has not been empirically tested in a clinical sample of women with eating disorders. In the present effort, 209 women in residential treatment for eating disorders completed self-report measures of self-objectification, body shame, media influence, and drive for thinness on admission to treatment. Results demonstrated that the internalization of appearance ideals from the media predicted self-objectification, whereas using the media as an informational source about appearance and feeling pressured to conform to media ideals did not. Self-objectification partially mediated the relationship between internalized appearance ideals and drive for thinness; internalized appearance ideals continued to be an independent predictor of variance. In accordance with objectification theory, body shame partially mediated the relationship between self-objectification and drive for thinness in women with eating disorders; self-objectification continued to be an independent predictor of variance. These results illustrate the importance of understanding and targeting the experience of self-objectification in women with eating disorders or women at risk for eating disorders.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Sex Roles, v. 52, issue 1-2, p. 43-50