Sex Roles

, Volume 68, Issue 7–8, pp 484–495 | Cite as

Being a Body: Women’s Appearance Related Self-Views and their Dehumanization of Sexually Objectified Female Targets

  • Elisa PuviaEmail author
  • Jeroen Vaes
Original Article


When sexually objectified, women are reduced to their bodies or sexual body parts and become likely targets of dehumanization. Not only men, but also women engage in this process. In the present research, we tested the link between women’s appearance related self-views and their tendency to dehumanize sexually objectified female targets. Specifically, we test two mediational models and predict that (1) women’s motivation to look attractive to men and (2) their tendency to internalize the sociocultural beauty standards are linked with the dehumanization of sexually objectified female targets, and their level of self-objectification mediates both relations. To test these hypotheses, a sample of 55 heterosexual undergraduate female students from Northern Italy volunteered. Participants’ motivation to look attractive to men, their level of internalization of the sociocultural beauty standards, and their tendency to self-objectify was measured. Results confirmed that only sexually objectified female targets were significantly dehumanized, while their non-objectified counterparts were not. Moreover, both participants’ motivation to look attractive to men and their tendency to internalize the sociocultural beauty standards were positively linked with the dehumanization of sexually objectified female targets. As expected, these relations were mediated by participants’ level of self-objectification. These results show that higher levels of self-objectification among those women who are motivated either to look attractive to men or to internalize the sociocultural beauty standards are linked with their tendency to dehumanize sexually objectified female targets.


Self-objectification Internalization of sociocultural beauty standards Motivation to look attractive to men Dehumanization Romantic relationship 



This research was supported in part by the grant ES/I029583/1 from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

We would like to thank Stephen Loughnan for his helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental Psychology and Socialization (DPSS)University of PadovaPadovaItaly

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