Social Comparison of Body Image in Middle-Aged Women: Implications for Body Image Theory
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Body image dissatisfaction persists into middle age for women. Despite this, most research addressing this area has focused on younger adult women. Therefore, this study sought to explore middle-aged women’s body image experience in more depth. Specifically, aspects of the Tripartite Influence Model, including media pressure, interpersonal pressure, internalization, and social comparison were explored to examine their relevance for middle-aged women’s body image. A sample of 158 predominately White participants completed this online study (87 younger adult women, 71 middle-aged adult women). Participants completed questionnaires which examined perceived interpersonal pressure within close relationships, media usage, self-comparison to media and to close others, and eating disorder symptoms. Results indicated that middle-aged women were frequently exposed to different forms of media than younger adult women; however, parallel to younger adult women, they compared their body shape to similarly-aged media models. Further, body shape and weight comparisons were made to peers and family members to a similar degree as in a younger sample. Middle-aged women reported perceiving the most consistent pressure to alter their shape and weight from their children and partners, though peer pressure to alter the body was more closely related to disordered eating symptoms. These findings suggest that elements of the Tripartite Influence Model apply to middle-aged women. Clinically, these findings may be used to inform treatment for body image concerns and disordered eating among middle-aged White women.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Review of the literature -- Methodology -- Results -- Discussion -- Appendix A. Consent Form -- Appendix B. Demographics Questionnaire -- Appendix C. Study Measures -- Appendix D. Study Image Examples
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)