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Actual Reports and Perceptions of Body Image Concerns of Young Women and Their Friends

Abstract

The present study was conducted to examine the role of friends in women’s body image concerns. Self and peer reports were completed by a convenience sample of 75 pairs of same gender female friends (N = 150) from a small undergraduate university in Eastern Canada. In a conceptual replication of previous research, we first showed that self-reports of perceived pressure to be thin significantly predicted women’s own body image concerns when controlling for body mass. Of interest was the finding that body-related talk between friends that focused on exercise significantly predicted less body dissatisfaction. Additionally, by examining the relationships between self and peer reports, we showed that women’s perceptions of their friends’ body image concerns aligned to both self-reports and to friends’ actual reports suggesting that women likely projected their own self-views when perceiving friends. Moreover, using multiple regression analyses, we demonstrated that perceptions of friends, and not friends’ actual reports, predicted own body concerns. Besides the suggestions for future research stemming from limitations of the present study, we suggest that researchers interested in similarities between friends on women’s body image concerns include both perceptions of peers and actual peer reports.

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Correspondence to Louise Wasylkiw.

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Wasylkiw, L., Williamson, M.E. Actual Reports and Perceptions of Body Image Concerns of Young Women and Their Friends. Sex Roles 68, 239–251 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-012-0227-2

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Keywords

  • Perceptions
  • Body image concerns
  • Friends