Sex Roles

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 185-195

Sex differences in the nature, realism, and correlates of body image

  • Laurie B. MintzAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, The Ohio State University
  • , Nancy E. BetzAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, The Ohio State University

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The present study examined sex differences in the nature and realism of body-image satisfaction, and the extent to which sex and sex role ideology moderated the relationships of body image to other indices of self-esteem and well-being. Accordingly, scales assessing body cathexis, self-esteem, depression proneness, and sex role ideology, as well as a questionnaire assessing perceptions of weight and dieting activities, were completed by 135 college women and 129 college men. As expected, women indicated significantly greater dissatisfaction with their bodies than did men. Women were likely to perceive themselves as overweight or slightly overweight, regardless of their actual weight, and most wanted to lose weight. Men who were dissatisfied tended to perceive themselves as underweight and wanted to gain rather than to lose weight. For both sexes, less positive attitudes to ward one's body were related to lower levels of self-esteem, although the relationship was significantly stronger for women than for men. The relationship between body attitudes and self-esteem was of approximately equal magnitude among traditional vs feminist women. For both sexes, more negative attitudes towards one's body were related to greater proneness to depression. Implications for further research are discussed.