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U.S. Study Identifies Five Factors that Contribute to a Positive Body Image in Women


A new study by researchers from the University of Arizona has identified five factors that promote a positive body image in women.

The researchers were interested in determining the factors that encourage young women to develop a positive body image within a society in which women have a tendency to be dissatisfied with their bodies and appearance.

Study focused on college women

The study which is published in the online journal Sex Roles focuses on young college women who are especially vulnerable to the effects of peer pressure and societal expectations regarding body image. The researchers believe that this dissatisfaction places these women at high risk of developing eating disorders.

The researchers examined questionnaires completed by 301 women in their first year of college at two different universities. The questionnaires were based on the Choate theoretical model that hypothesizes that family support and limited pressure to attain the thin body image idealized by society results in a rejection of the values associated with a so called “perfect” body image and increases the resiliency of the women in the face of societal pressure to be slim.

Family support plays a role

Results from the questionnaires indicated that those young women with plenty of family support combined with low expectations regarding being thin and beautiful, were in fact more comfortable with their physical appearance. These same women were less self-conscious, demonstrated a positive physical self-concept through healthy exercise and healthy balanced living, and managed their stress effectively.

The researchers concluded that the five factors that promote a positive body image in women are:

  1. A high degree of family support;
  2. Low levels of perceived socio-cultural pressure to value a “perfect” thin body type;
  3. Rejection of the idealized “superwoman” image found in the media and throughout western society;
  4. A positive outlook regarding one’s physical well being, and (5) effective coping skills to manage stress.

The researchers report that the study results indicate the importance of building a sense of self-worth and resiliency in young women based upon more than physical appearance.

Source: Medical News Today

Photo: Anton Belovodchenko