The Role of Romantic Attachment in Women’s Experiences of Body Surveillance and Body Shame

Abstract

Self-objectification, body surveillance, and body shame have been widely researched in the context of early attachment and interpersonal relationships; however, no research to date had been conducted on the role of romantic attachment styles. In the current study, we examined the role of romantic attachment in women’s (n = 193) experiences of body surveillance and body shame. We hypothesized a model in which anxious and avoidant attachment positively predicted body shame through the intervening variable of body surveillance and then revised the model to incorporate a direct path from anxious attachment to body shame. The revised model had good fit to our data. Our research suggests that body surveillance and body shame are outcomes of insecure romantic attachment in adulthood. While this was true for both insecure attachment styles, anxious attachment, in particular, was a stronger predictor of both body surveillance and body shame. We discuss the potential implications of these findings in the context of prior research on self-objectification and relationship contingency, self-esteem, and rejection fears.

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Correspondence to Mindy J. Erchull.

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DeVille, D.C., Ellmo, F.I., Horton, W.A. et al. The Role of Romantic Attachment in Women’s Experiences of Body Surveillance and Body Shame. Gend. Issues 32, 111–120 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-015-9136-3

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Keywords

  • Self-objectification
  • Body surveillance
  • Body shame
  • Anxious adult attachment
  • Avoidant adult attachment