ArticlePDF AvailableLiterature Review

Women and weight: A normative discontent

Authors:
... For many, weight watching is an obsession. Monitoring and judging weight have become normative in Western society and discontent with the number on the scale is standard and expected (Rodin et al., 1984;Tantleff-Dunn et al., 2011). The belief in one's ability to control their weight is strongly tied to behaviors such as careful regulation of energy intake and energy expenditure, hypervigilance in the face of food, and self-monitoring calories and macronutrients (Roehrig et al., 2008). ...
... Internalized weight bias is self-directed and is the extent to which individuals endorse negative beliefs and stereotypes about their weight (Kirk et al., 2020). "Watching" our weight is so common that even individuals who more closely fit the Western ideal of beauty in terms of body size are not immune from preoccupation with their weight or internalized weight bias (Rodin et al., 1984;Wade et al., 2011). On the contrary, the social expectation that people "fit in" requires a certain amount of self-surveillance and demonstrations of personal responsibility in the form of exhibiting expected or desirable health behaviors. ...
... Consequently, in this research, we sought to understand the elusiveness of weight through the lenses of: (a) expert professionals who work as researchers, practitioners, and/or policy makers in fields related to weight (eating disorders, obesity, weight stigma); and (b) people who have expertise through experiences of "weight issues" (e.g. body and weight dissatisfaction, disordered eating, dieting) to gain "common knowledge" understandings of weight and normative discontent (Rodin et al., 1984), recognizing that expert professionals bring personal experience inseparable from their professional expertise. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: That we all weigh something is a fact of life, yet the material reality of weight is refracted through multiple layers of surveillance revealing contradictions in experience and understanding, depending on one’s vantage point. We explored the complexities of weight with the specific aim of furthering understanding of this multifaceted surveillance. Methods and Measures: We used hermeneutics, the philosophy and practice of interpretation, as the method of inquiry. Ten experts by experience and seven professional experts participated in interviews, which were audio- recorded, transcribed, and analyzed. Interpretations were developed through group discussions among the eight authors and reiterative writing. Results: Using the metaphor of optics, we demonstrate how the interplay of the panopticon (the few watching the many) and synopticon (the many watching the few) help us gain a deeper understanding of weight through “fitting in,” being “captured by numbers,” “dieting: the tyrannic tower,” and “the male gaze.” Conclusion: Monitoring and judging body weight have become so normative in Western society that “weight watching” practices are synonymous with good citizenship and moral character. This study offers insight about how weight is conceptualized in personal and professional contexts, with implications for body image, dieting, eating disorders, public health, and weight bias.
... Of note, "no evidence of a disturbance in the way in which one's body weight or shape is experienced" [4] (p. 376) may be a high threshold for diagnosis. Individuals with ARFID are not immune to societal influences of shape/weight and even individuals without eating disorders express body image concerns [13,14]. Of note, individuals with ARFID in some studies [15,16] reported behaviors characteristic of other eating disorders (e.g., binge eating, self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise), and still, others [9] have developed de novo shape/weight concerns concurrent with their ARFID diagnosis during treatment. ...
... Finally, though ARFID cannot be concurrently diagnosed with AN or BN, and DSM-5 precludes shape/ weight disturbance for diagnosis, investigators [9,15,16] have documented overlap between ARFID and other eating disorder symptoms, and ARFID can co-occur with BED. Given the prevalence of normative body discontent [13,14], we encourage clinicians assessing and treating ARFID to exercise caution and utilize clinical judgment when conferring diagnosis. In sum, there is growing literature pertaining to the assessment and treatment of ARFID. ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of Review To review the literature pertaining to the assessment and treatment of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) ten years following its introduction to DSM-5. Recent Findings Several structured clinical interviews for assessing ARFID have been developed, each with its own strengths and limitations. There is no clear leading self-report measure for tracking treatment progress and outcome in ARFID. Medical assessment is comprised of examining anthropometrics, vitamin deficiencies, and other comorbidities. To date, several studies have reported on cognitive behavioral therapy, family-based treatment, and other approaches to the treatment of ARFID. These treatments appear promising; however, they rely on data from clinical case series and very small randomized controlled trials. Summary Several promising assessments and treatments for ARFID are in the early stages of research. Yet, controversies remain. These include (a) overlap with criteria for pediatric feeding disorder; (b) the optimal method for assessing nutrient deficiencies; (c) disciplines involved in treatment. Future research innovation is necessary to improve the psychometric properties of ARFID assessments and evaluate treatment efficacy with larger samples and randomized designs.
... A multitude of studies indicate that the majority of women and men have poor body image. Weight is regarded as "a normative unhappiness" for women since their physical size, weight, and desire to be lighter are so visible (Rodin, Silberstein, and Striegel-Moore, 1984). The evidence supporting males' having a poor body image and dissatisfaction is growing by the day, implying that guys want to be more muscular than they are. ...
Article
Full-text available
In India, body image research is still in its infancy, and the social and psychological effects of having a negative body image are not given enough attention. The purpose of the current study is to learn about a person's body image and how it relates to social and psychological outcomes. The current study focuses on how boys and girls think about their bodies, idealised physical characteristics, factors that affect body image, and the effects of having a good or bad body image. The results of this study show that the significance of body image in Indian culture is comparable to that of body image in Western culture. Comparable concepts in the east and west could be explained by the digital environment. Today's digital environment has made borders more permeable due to communication. Sending messages from one nation to another is now simple.
... Body dissatisfaction is defined as the negative subjective evaluation of one's body and is often considered the attitudinal manifestation of body image disturbance (Cash & Deagle, 1997). Large scale studies conducted in multiple countries demonstrate that body dissatisfaction is highly prevalent in women (Al Sabbah et al., 2009;Ejike, 2015;Fiske et al., 2014;Griffiths et al., 2016;Matthiasdottir et al., 2012;Mond et al., 2013), leading some researchers to use the term "normative discontent" to describe the widespread dissatisfaction women feel towards their bodies (Rodin et al., 1984). Body dissatisfaction is associated with multiple negative health outcomes and behaviours. ...
Article
Full-text available
Body dissatisfaction is defined as the negative subjective evaluation of one’s body and is considered a risk factor for, and symptom of, eating disorders. Some studies show women with high body dissatisfaction display an attentional bias towards low weight bodies; however, this finding is not consistent, and results are yet to be systematically synthesised. We conducted a qualitative and quantitative synthesis of cross-sectional studies investigating the relationship between body dissatisfaction and attentional bias to low weight bodies in non-clinical samples of women. We searched PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, PsycINFO, ProQuest, and OpenGrey for studies up until September 2022. We identified 34 eligible studies involving a total of 2857 women. A meta-analysis of 26 studies (75 effects) found some evidence from gaze tracking studies for a positive association between body dissatisfaction and attentional bias to low weight bodies. We found no evidence for an association from studies measuring attention using the dot probe task, electroencephalogram (EEG) recording, or the modified spatial cueing task. The results together provide partial support for the positive association between body dissatisfaction and attentional bias to low weight bodies in women. These findings can be used to inform future attentional bias research.
... Body dissatisfaction is so pervasive in the USA that it is referred to as normative discontent (Rodin et al., 1985;Striegel-Moore et al., 1986). Many women base their selfesteem on their body image (Grabe et al., 2008;Grogan, 2008;Homan & Boyatzis, 2010). ...
Article
Full-text available
Systematic research on the role of social affirmation from one’s religious community on body evaluations is absent. This study therefore explored the relationships among feeling affirmed-from-church, weight-rejection sensitivity, and body evaluations. Drawing from self-affirmation theory, we tested whether a social aspect of religiosity (i.e., feeling affirmed from one’s religious community) attenuated the relationship between weight-rejection anxiety and body dissatisfaction, controlling for body mass, affect, and church attendance. We also examined gender differences in religiosity, body image, and fat talk in secular and religious circles in a sample of young adults in the USA (187F, 84M; Mage = 18.59, SD = 0.83). As predicted, both men and women reported hearing less fat-talk at church than among friends, and women reported a positive relation between feeling affirmed-from-church and hearing body-acceptance talk at church. The moderation prediction was supported for women. Greater affirmation-from-church weakened the effect of women’s weight sensitivity on body satisfaction (but not weight esteem). For men, affirmation-from-church strengthened the effect of their weight sensitivity on body dissatisfaction and low weight esteem. Feeling affirmed from church may facilitate women’s body satisfaction despite their weight-sensitivities. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
... Body dissatisfaction-a negative self-assessment of one's own physical appearance-is so commonly reported that some researchers have referred to it as a "normative" or "endemic" condition [1][2][3][4][5]. Evidence indicates that body dissatisfaction occurs across genders, across race/ethnic groups, and in all adult age groups. ...
Article
Full-text available
Body dissatisfaction is a common condition that poses health behavior risks, such as the use of maladaptive eating styles instead of adaptive eating styles. Few studies have simultaneously examined both adaptive and maladaptive eating styles and their association with body dissatisfaction in a comprehensive manner. To address this gap, this study examined how body dissatisfaction is related to an array of adaptive and maladaptive eating styles, weight-related behaviors, and health status as well as the associations of health status, BMI, and weight-related behaviors with body dissatisfaction in 261 young adult women. Maladaptive eating styles, such as emotional eating, tended to rise in tandem with body dissatisfaction, differing significantly among body-dissatisfaction levels with medium to large effect sizes. For adaptive eating styles, as body dissatisfaction increased, compensatory restraint increased, intuitive eating declined, and mindful eating did not differ. Weight-related dietary, physical activity, and sleep behaviors did not differ by body dissatisfaction level. BMI increased and health status decreased as body dissatisfaction increased. Binary logistic regression revealed those who were body-dissatisfied had significantly lower health status, higher BMIs, and did not differ on weight-related behaviors. Study findings suggest strategies to improve health-promotion interventions aiming to increase body satisfaction.
... [16][17][18] En un medio social y cultural en el que los mensajes en contra del sobrepeso y la obesidad y a favor del control del peso corporal están presentes en numerosos espacios, ciertas conductas y actitudes pueden considerarse normativas, en un sentido similar al del "descontento normativo" descrito por Silberstein y Striegel-Moore. 19 Estas autoras explicaban la insatisfacción con la figura experimentada por muchas mujeres como el resultado de una norma cultural que imponía no sólo la delgadez, sino también las prácticas empleadas para conseguirla. Mientras que en décadas previas esta norma pesaba principalmente sobre las mujeres, en el contexto de la preocupación por el sobrepeso y la obesidad los mensajes sobre el control de peso se dirigen a toda la población. ...
Article
Objective: To analyze the relationship between disordered eating behaviors (DEB) and depressive symptoms, suicide attempts, and alcohol and tobacco use in adolescents in a national survey in Mexico. Materials and methods: Data from the Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrición 2018-19 were used. Three levels of DEB were established: no risk (DEB-NR), moderate risk (DEB-MR), and high risk (DEB-HR). An ordinal logistic regression model was performed with level of DEB risk as a dependent variable. Results: National prevalence of DEB-MR was 6.0% (95%CI: 5.6, 6.5), while that of DEB-HR was 1.3% (95%CI: 1.1, 1.6). Suicide attempt (OR= 1.82, 95%CI: 1.02,3.25) and depressive symptoms (OR= 2.6, 95%CI: 1.40,4.98) were associated with being at a higher risk of DEB. Conclusion: Since both depressive symptoms and suicide attempt are associated with DEB, prevention strategies should consider interventions that simultaneously address the various mental health problems present in adolescence.
Article
Çalışmada Akdeniz diyeti ile birlikte uygulanan 8 haftalık aerobik egzersizin vücut kompozisyonu, bedeni beğenme ve cinsel yaşam kalitesi üzerine etkisini incelemek amaçlanmıştır. Araştırma Sakarya ilinde ikamet eden 64 (yaş = 40.13  3.38) sedanter kadından oluşmaktadır. Katılımcılar randomize olarak dört gruba (Akdeniz diyeti + egzersiz grubu (n:16), sadece egzersiz grubu (n:16), sadece Akdeniz diyeti grubu (n:16) ve kontrol grubu (n:16)) ayrılmıştır. Sedanter kadınlara 8 haftalık egzersiz ve diyet programı uygulanmış, diyet ve egzersiz programları öncesi ve sonrasında vücut kompozisyonu (BKİ, yağsız kütle, yağ kütle), bedeni beğenme ve cinsel yaşam kalite değerleri ölçümleri alınmıştır. Elden edilen verilere SPSS 25.0 paket programında tekrar eden ölçümlerde varyans analizi (Repeated measures -ANOVA) kullanılmıştır. Ayrıca zamana bağlı gruplar arasındaki değişimler “%Δ= (Son Test-Ön Test) /Ön Test*100” formülü kullanılarak hesaplanmıştır. Güven %95 aralığı olarak seçilmiş ve p
Article
Full-text available
Body image is an integral aspect of the psychology of the self. Idealized body images are ubiquitous in both traditional media forms (e.g., magazines, television) and social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram). The classic sociocultural model of body image (i.e., the Tripartite Influence Model) emphasizes pathways between idealized body norms, appearance comparisons, internalization of body ideals, and body dissatisfaction and its outcomes. We summarize the model and identify some issues to be addressed in future work, particularly in light of the immense popularity of social media. We review three topics that are not included in the sociocultural model but that provide a more complete picture of the influence of societal body norms on body image: (1) body shame, (2) positive body image, and (3) self-compassion. Research on the nature, assessment, and relevance of these constructs is reviewed in detail. In terms of clinical applications of these areas of research for individuals at risk of body dissatisfaction, we suggest assessing for and targeting body shame, cultivating facets of positive body image, and teaching strategies for developing self-compassion.
Article
Body image concerns may play a role in weight changing behaviour. The objective of this study was to assess body image in different weight groups. Participants reported satisfaction with (AE) and investment in (AO) appearance, and the discrepancy between current and ideal body size (BS). These scores were compared between weight groups based on body-mass index (BMI) using analysis of variance. One-sample t-tests and Cohen's d effect sizes examined the magnitude of differences within each weight group relative to neutral midpoints of the scales; cluster analysis identified body image profiles. A total of 27 896 women were included in this study. AE scores were highest for people with underweight and normal weight, AO scores were highest for the underweight group and lowest in class III obesity, and BS scores were largest in the obese groups (all p < .001) Cluster analysis identified eight body image profiles. In people with obesity, the most prevalent profiles included a preference for a smaller body and low satisfaction with appearance, but differed in investment in appearance (low vs. high). Most people with underweight were allocated to profiles showing high investment in their appearance, preference of a larger body, but differences in satisfaction with appearance (neutral vs. high). While people with a higher BMI have on average more body image concerns, different body image profiles exist in all weight groups. Future research should examine whether and which individuals in terms of body image profile may benefit more from weight interventions.
Article
An investigation of current American society's depiction of the ideal female body was performed. Body measurements of Playboy magazine centerfolds and Miss America contestants for 1979-1988 indicated body weight 13-19% below expected weight for women in that age group. Miss America contestants showed a significant decrease in expected weight between 1979 and 1988. Comparisons were made with an earlier study which had demonstrated that body measurements of both groups had decreased during the period 1959-1978. Diet-for-weight-loss and exercise articles in six women's magazines were tabulated for 1959-1988. A significant increase in both diet articles and exercise articles occurred during this period. These findings suggest that the overvaluation of thinness continues and thinness is now sought through both dieting and exercise.
Article
Objective: This study examined the importance of potential risk factors for eating disorder onset in a large multiethnic sample followed for up to 3 years, with assessment instruments validated for the target population and a structured clinical interview used to make diagnoses. Method: Participants were 1,103 girls initially assessed in grades 6-9 in school districts in Arizona and California. Each year, students completed the McKnight Risk Factor Survey, had body height and weight measured, and underwent a structured clinical interview. The McKnight Risk Factor Survey, a self-report instrument developed for this age group, includes questions related to risk factors for eating disorders. Results: During follow-up, 32 girls (2.9%) developed a partial- or full-syndrome eating disorder. At the Arizona site, there was a significant interaction between Hispanics and higher scores on a factor measuring thin body preoccupation and social pressure in predicting onset of eating disorders. An increase in negative life events also predicted onset of eating disorders in this sample. At the California site, only thin body preoccupation and social pressure predicted onset of eating disorders. A four-item screen derived from thin body preoccupation and social pressure had a sensitivity of 0.72, a specificity of 0.80, and an efficiency of 0.79. Conclusions: Thin body preoccupation and social pressure are important risk factors for the development of eating disorders in adolescents. Some Hispanic groups are at risk of developing eating disorders. Efforts to reduce peer, cultural, and other sources of thin body peeoccupation may be necessary to prevent eating disorders.
Article
Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN), have genetic and environmental underpinnings. To explore genetic contributions to AN, we measured psychiatric, personality and temperament phenotypes of individuals diagnosed with eating disorders from 196 multiplex families, all accessed through an AN proband, as well as genotyping a battery of 387 short tandem repeat (STR) markers distributed across the genome. On these data we performed a multipoint affected sibling pair (ASP) linkage analysis using a novel method that incorporates covariates. By exploring seven attributes thought to typify individuals with eating disorders, we identified two variables, drive-for-thinness and obsessionality, which delimit populations among the ASPs. For both of these traits, or covariates, there were a cluster of ASPs who have high and concordant values for these traits, in keeping with our expectations for individuals with AN, and other clusters of ASPs who did not meet those expectations. When we incorporated these covariates into the ASP linkage analysis, both jointly and separately, we found several regions of suggestive linkage: one close to genome-wide significance on chromosome 1 (at 210 cM, D1S1660; LOD = 3.46, P = 0.00003), another on chromosome 2 (at 114 cM, D2S1790; LOD = 2.22, P= 0.00070) and a third region on chromosome 13 (at 26 cM, D13S894; LOD = 2.50, P = 0.00035). By comparing our results to those implemented using more standard linkage methods, we find the covariates convey substantial information for the linkage analysis.