, Volume 44, Issue 7-8, pp 461-484

Body Dissatisfaction in Women and Men: The Role of Gender-Typing and Self-Esteem

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Body dissatisfaction was studied in 589 predominately middle class, European American, college students, classified as masculine-typed, feminine-typed, androgynous, or undifferentiated using the Personal Attributes Questionnaire. Body dissatisfaction was defined as the discrepancy between a drawing selected as describing the individual's body and their selection of drawings representing: (1) their ideal body; (2) the body they believed members of their sex preferred; and (3) the body they believed members of the opposite sex preferred. Two separate studies found that women classified as feminine-typed or undifferentiated were more dissatisfied with their bodies than were women classified as masculine-typed or androgynous. Similar results were found for men. Both studies also found that women, regardless of gender-type, had thin ideals and greatly overestimated male preferences for slender female bodies. The theoretical implications of these results for gender schema theory and two other theories of gender typing were discussed. It was concluded that it is unnecessary to appeal to complex theories of gender-mediated socialization in order to explain differences in body dissatisfaction in women or men. Instead, these differences are most parsimoniously understood as the consequences of differences in global self-esteem.