Sex Roles

, Volume 57, Issue 5–6, pp 317–327 | Cite as

The UCLA Body Project I: Gender and Ethnic Differences in Self-Objectification and Body Satisfaction Among 2,206 Undergraduates

  • David A. Frederick
  • Gordon B. Forbes
  • Kristina E. Grigorian
  • Johanna M. Jarcho
Original Article


This study examined whether objectification theory is useful for understanding gender, body mass, and ethnic differences in body satisfaction among 2,206 US undergraduates who completed a body image survey. Women reported lower body satisfaction than men (d = .37) and this was true across the majority of the BMI continuum. Very slender men, however, were less satisfied than very slender women who approached the female thin-ideal. Differences in body satisfaction among White, Asian, and Hispanic participants were small to moderate (ds = .18 to .45). Consistent with the prediction that self-objectification has particularly negative effects on women who deviate from the slender White ideal, the association between body dissatisfaction and appearance surveillance was strongest for heavier and minority women.


Body image Ethnicity Objectification 



The authors are grateful to the UCLA Graduate Division, the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development, and the Departments of Psychology and Communication Studies for providing financial support to the first author. We are also grateful for support from the UCLA Institute of American Cultures, who provided a research grant for this project to the first author. We would like to thank Eric Kroskrity, Misoo Lee, Andrea Niles, Taylor Rhoades, and Leila Sadeghi-Azar for their assistance with this project and manuscript.


  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons (2006). Dramatic rise in ethnic plastic surgery. Retrieved on June 26, 2006, from:
  2. Bordo, S. (1993). Unbearable weight: Feminism, Western culture, and the body. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  3. Cafri, G., & Thompson, J. K. (2004). Measuring male body image: A review of the current methodology. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 5, 18–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cafri, G., Thompson, J. K., Ricciardelli, L., McCabe, M., Smolak, L., & Yesalis, C. (2005). Pursuit of the muscular ideal: Physical and psychological consequences and putative risk factors. Clinical Psychology Review, 25, 215–239.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carlat, D. J., & Carmago, C. A. (1991). Review of bulimia nervosa in males. American Journal of Psychiatry, 148, 831–843.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Cash, T. F. (2000). The multidimensional body–self relations questionnaire users’ manual: 3rd revision. Available at
  7. Cash, T. F., & Deagle, E. A. (1997). The nature and extent of body-image disturbances in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 22, 107–125.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd edn.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  9. Davis, C., & Katzman, M. A. (1999). Perfection as acculturation: Psychological correlates of eating problems in Chinese male and female students living in the United States. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 25, 65–70.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Drummond, M. J. N. (2002). Men, body image, and eating disorders. International Journal of Men’s Health, 1, 89–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Feingold, A., & Mazzella, R. (1998). Gender differences in body image are increasing. Psychological Science, 9, 190–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Forbes, G. B., Jobe, R. L., & Revak, J. A. (2006). Relationship between dissatisfaction with specific body characteristics and the Sociocultural Attitudes Toward Appearance Scale—3 and the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale. Body Image, 3, 295–300.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Frederick, D. A., Buchanan, G. M., Sadeghi-Azar, L., Peplau, L. A., Haselton, M. G., Berezovskaya, A., & Lipinski, R. E. (2007). Desiring the muscular ideal: Men’s body satisfaction in the United States, Ukraine, and Ghana. Psychology of Men & Masculinity (in press).Google Scholar
  14. Frederick, D. A. Fessler, D. M. T., & Haselton, M. G. (2005). Do representations of male muscularity differ in men’s and women’s magazines? Body Image, 2, 81–86.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Frederick, D. A., Peplau, L. A., & Lever, J. (2006). The swimsuit issue: Correlates of body image in a sample of 52,677 heterosexual adults. Body Image, 3, 413–419.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. A. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 273–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grabe, S., & Hyde, J. S. (2006). Ethnicity and body dissatisfaction among women in the United States : A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 622–640.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Granner, M. L., Black, D. R., & Abood, D. A. (2002). Levels of cigarette and alcohol use related to eating-disorder attitudes. American Journal of Health Behavior, 26, 43–55.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Grogan, S. (1999). Body image: Understanding body dissatisfaction in men, women, and children. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Hall, C. C. I. (1995). Asian eyes: Body image and eating disorders of Asian and Asian American women. Eating Disorders, 3, 8–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kaw, E. (1993). Medicalization of racial features: Asian American women and cosmetic surgery. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 7, 74–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kilmartin, C. T. (2007). The masculine self, 3rd edn. New York: Sloan Publishing: Cornwall-on-Hudson.Google Scholar
  23. Kozee, H. B., & Tylka, T. L. (2006). A test of objectification theory with lesbian women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30, 348–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Labre, M. P. (2002). Adolescent boys and muscular male body ideal. Journal of Adolescent Health, 30, 233–242.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Littleton, H., Breitkopf, C. R., & Berenson, A. (2005). Body image and risky sexual behaviors: An investigation in a tri-ethnic sample. Body Image, 2, 193–198.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Lucas, A., Beard, M., Kurland, L., & O’Fallon, M. (1991). 50-year trends in the incidence of anorexia nervosa in Minnesota: A population-based study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 148, 917–922.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. McCabe, M. P., & Ricciardelli, L. A. (2004). Body image dissatisfaction among males across the lifespan: A review of past literature. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 56, 675–685.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McCreary, D. R., & Sadava, S. W. (2001). Gender differences in relationships among perceived attractiveness, life satisfaction, and health in adults as a function of body mass index and perceived weight. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 2, 108–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McCreary, D. R., Saucier, D. M., & Courtenay, W. H. (2005). The drive for muscularity and masculinity: Testing the associations among gender-role traits, behaviors, attitude, and conflict. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 6, 83–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McKinley, N. M., & Hyde, J. S. (1996). The Objectified Body Consciousness Scale: Development and validation. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20, 181–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mishkind, M. E., Rodin, J., Silberstein, L. R., & Striegel-Moore, R. H. (1986). The embodiment of masculinity: Cultural, psychological, and behavioral dimensions. American Behavioral Scientist, 29, 545–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Muth, J. L., & Cash, T. F. (1997). Body-image attitudes: What difference does gender make? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 27, 1438–1452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. National Institute of Health (1998). Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, amd treatment of overweight and obesity in adults. September 1998 (No. 98-4083). Bethesda, MD: Author.Google Scholar
  34. Neal, A. M., & Wilson, M. L. (1989). The role of skin color and features in the Black community: Implications for Black women and therapy. Clinical Psychology Review, 9, 323–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Noles, S. W., Cash, T. F., & Winstead, B. A. (1985). Body image, physical attractiveness, and depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53, 88–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pingitore, R., Spring, B., & Garfield, D. (1997). Gender differences in body satisfaction. Obesity Research, 5, 402–409.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Polivy, J., & Herman, C. P. (2002). Causes of eating disorders. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 187–213.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Powell, M. R., & Hendricks, B. (1999). Body schema, gender, and other correlates in nonclinical populations. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 125, 33–41.Google Scholar
  39. Root, M. P. P. (1990). Disordered eating in women of color. Sex Roles, 22, 525–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sondhaus, E. L., Kurtz, R. M., & Strube, M. J. (2001). Body attitude, gender, and self-concept: A 30-year perspective. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 135, 413–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stice, E., & Shaw, H. E. (2002). Role of body dissatisfaction in the onset and maintenance of eating pathology: A synthesis of research findings. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 53, 985–993.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Strain, G. W., & Zumoff, B. (1992). The relationship of weight–height indices of obesity to body fat content. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 11, 715–718.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Strelan, P., & Hargreaves, D. (2005). Women who objectify other women: The vicious circle of objectification? Sex Roles, 52, 707–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Striegel-Moore, R. H., & Smolak, L. (2000). The influence of ethnicity on eating disorders in women. In R. M. Eisler, & M. Hersen (Eds.), Handbook of gender, culture, and health (pp. 227–253). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  45. Thompson, J. K. (1996). Assessing body image disturbance: Measures, methodology, and instrumentation. In J. K. Thompson (Ed.), Body image, eating disorders, and obesity (pp. 49–81). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  46. Tiggemann, M., & Kuring, J. K. (2004). The role of body objectification in disordered eating and depressed mood. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 43, 299–311.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tylka, T. L. (2004). The relation between body dissatisfaction and eating disorder symptomatology: An analysis of moderating variables. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 51, 178–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Welborn, T. A., Knuiman, M. W., & Vu, H. T. (2000). Body mass index and alternative indices of obesity in relation to height, triceps skinfold and subsequent mortality: The Busselton health study. International Journal of Obesity Related Metabolic Disorders, 24, 108–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Frederick
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Gordon B. Forbes
    • 2
  • Kristina E. Grigorian
    • 1
  • Johanna M. Jarcho
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral SciencesMillikin UniversityDecaturUSA
  3. 3.FPR-UCLA Center for Culture, Brain, and DevelopmentLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution, and CultureLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations