Physique Contrast Effect: Adverse Impact of Idealized Body Images for Women

Abstract

Adherence to an attractiveness ideal was considered as a possible mediator of a physique contrast effect among Caucasian women. Following exposure to photographs of models typifying idealized thin physiques, women displayed decreased self-esteem and increased self-consciousness, social physique anxiety, and body dissatisfaction. Although women with low adherence to an attractiveness ideal seemed to be advantaged by having greater self-esteem, less self-consciousness, and lower physique anxiety or dissatisfaction than their high adherence counterparts, these women did not display any unique resistance to the contrast effect. High affirmation of an attractiveness ideal was associated with exceptionally high potential for disordered eating. Eating disorder potential did not show influence of the contrast effect, but long-term implications were considered.

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Correspondence to Bill Thornton.

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Thornton, B., Maurice, J. Physique Contrast Effect: Adverse Impact of Idealized Body Images for Women. Sex Roles 37, 433–439 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025609624848

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Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Body Image
  • High Potential
  • Eating Disorder
  • Adverse Impact