Sex Roles, Vol. 52, Nos. 1/2, January 2005 (
Self-Objectiﬁcation Among Physically Active Women
Objectiﬁcation Theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) was used to examine (a) the media-
tion effects of body shame and ﬂow on the relationship between self-objectiﬁcation and dis-
ordered eating, (b) age differences in self-objectiﬁcation, body shame, ﬂow, and disordered
eating, (c) the prediction of physical activity from self-objectiﬁcation, ﬂow, body shame, and
disordered eating, and (d) the relationships between self-objectiﬁcation, ﬂow, and physical
activity. Participants were 394 women ages 18–64. Results revealed that (a) body shame medi-
ated the relationship between self-objectiﬁcation and disordered eating, (b) younger women
reported higher levels of self-objectiﬁcation, body shame, dieting, and several ﬂow charac-
teristics, (c) older women scored higher on the loss of self-consciousness subscale of the ﬂow
measure, and (d) self-objectiﬁcation was a signiﬁcant predictor of physical activity.
KEY WORDS: self-objectiﬁcation; body image; disordered eating.
What impact does living in a culture that treats
the female body as an object for consumption have
on girls and women? Research has suggested that
girls and women are negatively impacted by the con-
stant onslaught of cultural messages that imply that
the female body is a public domain for all to eval-
uate and “consume” (Bordo, 1993; Cusumano &
Thompson, 1997). One consequence of living in a
society that objectiﬁes the female body is that girls
and women are socialized to self-objectify (i.e., to
internalize an observer’s view of one’s own body)
(Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). That is, girls and
women learn to view their own bodies as objects.
Several researchers have examined the psycho-
logical and behavioral impact that self-objectiﬁcation
can have on women (e.g., Fredrickson & Roberts,
1997; Gapinski, Brownell, & LaFrance, 2003;
McKinley & Hyde, 1996; Roberts & Gettman,
2004). Fredrickson and Roberts (1997) proposed
This article is based on the author’s doctoral dissertation, which
was completed at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
under the direction of Daniel Gould.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department
of Kinesiology, University of North Texas, Health Promotion,
and Recreation, P.O. Box 311337, Denton, TX 76203; e-mail:
Objectiﬁcation Theory as a feminist sociocultural
model to conceptualize experiences unique to girls
and women and related mental health issues that
result from self-objectiﬁcation. Self-objectiﬁcation
is hypothesized to have several psychological con-
sequences in the lives of women, including (a)
increased body shame, (b) increased appearance
anxiety, (c) decreased experiences of ﬂow states
(i.e., being totally absorbed in an activity), and
(d) decreased sensitivity to internal bodily cues.
Subsequently, these psychological consequences can
put women at risk for experiencing certain mental
health dysfunction such as disordered eating, which
was the focus of the present study. The overall aim of
the present study was to examine disordered eating
symptomology among two age groups of physically
active women using the self-objectiﬁcation, body
shame, ﬂow, and disordered eating components of
the Objectiﬁcation Theory framework.
To date, several aspects of Objectiﬁcation The-
ory have been well tested. The hypothesized rela-
tionships between self-objectiﬁcation, body shame,
and disordered eating, for example, have been
supported by the results of several studies (e.g.,
Fredrickson, Roberts, Noll, Quinn, & Twenge, 1998;
McKinley, 1999; McKinley & Hyde, 1996; Noll
& Fredrickson, 1998; Tiggemann & Slater, 2001).
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.