Self-objectification is often understood as a consequence of internalizing unrealistic media ideals. The consequences of self-objectification have been well studied and include depression and self-harm. We argue that body surveillance, a component of self-objectification that involves taking an observer’s perspective on oneself, is conceptually related to dissociation, a variable related to depression and self-harm. We hypothesized that the normative experience of self-objectification may increase the risk that young women dissociate in other contexts, providing an additional indirect path between self-objectification, depression, and self-harm. Snowball sampling begun with postings on Facebook was used to recruit 160 women, believed to be primarily from the U.S., to complete an online survey about the effects of media on young women. All participants ranged in age from 18–35 (M = 23.12, Median = 22, Mode = 21). Using this sample, we tested a path model in which internalization of media ideals led to body surveillance and body shame, body surveillance led to dissociation and body shame, body shame and dissociation led to depression, and dissociation and depression led to self-harm. This model, in which we controlled for the effects of age, had good fit to the data. Our findings suggest that self-harm and dissociation, both outcomes associated with the literature on trauma, are related to self-objectification. These relationships are discussed in terms of conceptualizing objectification and self-objectification as a form of insidious trauma or microaggression. Clinical implications are also discussed.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2013
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