The swimsuit issue: Correlates of body image in a sample of 52,677 heterosexual adults

Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, United States.
Body image (Impact Factor: 2.19). 01/2007; 3(4):413-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2006.08.002
Source: PubMed


Past research on adults' body image has typically used small convenience samples, limiting the ability to examine associations of personal characteristics to body satisfaction. This study of 52,677 heterosexual adults ages 18-65 examined associations of body satisfaction to age, height, gender, and body mass index (BMI). Age and height were mostly unrelated to body satisfaction. Consistent with an Objectification Theory perspective, fewer men than women reported being too heavy (41% versus 61%), rated their body as unattractive (11% versus 21%), or avoided wearing a swimsuit in public (16% versus 31%). Men felt better about their bodies than women across most of the weight span, although among underweight individuals, women felt better than men. Slender women (BMIs 14.5-22.49) were more satisfied than most other women (BMIs 22.5-40.5). Among men, underweight and obese men were least satisfied. These findings highlight gender differences in the association of weight to body satisfaction.

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Available from: Letitia Anne Peplau
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    • "Although effect sizes were small, there is some evidence for the increased prevalence of negative body-related experiences in older age. For example,Frederick et al. (2006)reported small, but significant negative links between age and body satisfaction in over 52,000 U.S. adults. It is possible that higher body dissatisfaction reported in older adults (e.g., women;Swami et al., 2010) is linked to physical changes associated with aging, including weight gain and altered body composition, which are discrepant from the youthful body ideal. "
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    • "Concurrently, however, objectification pressures may decline with age (Tiggemann and Lynch 2001) and older women may also develop resources that focus attention on the body's functionality rather than appearance (Avalos et al. 2005). Not surprisingly, when large-sample studies have examined associations between women's weight-related body dissatisfaction, they have returned equivocal results, with some studies indicating that negative body image increases with age (Frederick et al. 2006; Swami et al. 2010) and others reporting no significant association (Runfola et al. 2013). These mixed findings necessitate a closer examination of associations between age and body image. "
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    • "Striegel- Moore et al. (2009) reported that 1 in 10 men check their body size at least very often. In a nationally representative sample of over 52,000 adults in the U.S., 11% of men rated their body as unattractive and 16% reported they avoid wearing a swimsuit in public due to concerns with their appearance (Frederick et al., 2006). "
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