Sex Roles [sers] PP229-343644 August 23, 2001 11:5 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sex Roles, Vol. 44, Nos. 7/8, 2001
Body Dissatisfaction in Women and Men: The Role
of Gender-Typing and Self-Esteem
Gordon B. Forbes,
Leah E. Adams-Curtis, Brooke Rade, and Peter Jaberg
Body dissatisfaction was studied in 589 predominately middle class, European
American, college students, classiﬁed as masculine-typed, feminine-typed, an-
drogynous, or undifferentiated using the Personal Attributes Questionnaire.
Body dissatisfaction was deﬁned as the discrepancy between a drawing se-
lected as describing the individual’s body and their selection of drawings rep-
resenting: (1) their ideal body; (2) the body they believed members of their sex
preferred; and (3) the body they believed members of the opposite sex pre-
ferred. Two separate studies found that women classiﬁed as feminine-typed
or undifferentiated were more dissatisﬁed with their bodies than were women
classiﬁed as masculine-typed or androgynous. Similar results were found for
men. Both studies also found that women, regardless of gender-type, had thin
ideals and greatly overestimated male preferences for slender female bodies.
The theoretical implications of these results for gender schema theory and two
other theories of gender typing were discussed. It was concluded that it is un-
necessary to appeal to complex theories of gender-mediated socialization in
order to explain differences in body dissatisfaction in women or men. Instead,
these differences are most parsimoniously understood as the consequences of
differences in global self-esteem.
Western perceptions of the most desirable body type for women have shown
considerable change since the “sweater girls” of the 1940s and early 1950s.
By the late 1960s, Western culture was increasingly embracing the boyish
or tube-like silhouette of Twiggy as the ideal feminine body type (Lamb,
Jackson, Cassiday, & Priest, 1993). Objective measures of cultural ideals of
beauty, such as beauty queens and Playboy centerfolds, have conﬁrmed the
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Behavioral Sciences, Millikin
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2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation