Self-Objectification and Pregnancy: Are Body Functionality Dimensions Protective?

Self-Objectification and Pregnancy: Are Body Functionality Dimensions Protective? Objectification theory contends that women are socialized to view their body as an object to be evaluated by others (Fredickson and Roberts 1997). In contrast, pregnancy may be a time that women are more attuned to their body’s functionality. Extending objectification theory, we investigate relationships among body surveillance, awareness and appreciation of body functionality, depressive symptoms, and prenatal health behaviors among an on-line sample of 156 predominantly White, middle-class pregnant women from throughout the U.S recruited through maternity stores, message boards, listservs, and snowballing techniques. We examine whether higher levels of awareness and appreciation of body functionality may attenuate, and thereby possibly protect women from the negative effects of high body surveillance. We found that higher body surveillance was associated with depressive symptoms and, although not significant, tended to be associated with engagement in unhealthy prenatal behaviors. Awareness and appreciation of body functionality were each associated with fewer depressive symptoms and less engagement in unhealthy prenatal behaviors. Supporting our hypotheses, we found that at higher levels of appreciation of body functionality, the relationship between body surveillance and engagement in unhealthy behaviors was attenuated. However, in contrast to our hypotheses, the relationship between body surveillance and depression was stronger at higher levels of awareness of body functionality, and attenuated at lower levels. These findings suggest appreciation of body functionality may buffer negative effects of body surveillance. Future research examining these relationships over the course of pregnancy, and among ethnically and socioeconomically diverse women, is needed. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sex Roles Springer Journals

Self-Objectification and Pregnancy: Are Body Functionality Dimensions Protective?

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
Subject
Psychology; Gender Studies; Sociology, general; Medicine/Public Health, general
ISSN
0360-0025
eISSN
1573-2762
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11199-011-9955-y
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Objectification theory contends that women are socialized to view their body as an object to be evaluated by others (Fredickson and Roberts 1997). In contrast, pregnancy may be a time that women are more attuned to their body’s functionality. Extending objectification theory, we investigate relationships among body surveillance, awareness and appreciation of body functionality, depressive symptoms, and prenatal health behaviors among an on-line sample of 156 predominantly White, middle-class pregnant women from throughout the U.S recruited through maternity stores, message boards, listservs, and snowballing techniques. We examine whether higher levels of awareness and appreciation of body functionality may attenuate, and thereby possibly protect women from the negative effects of high body surveillance. We found that higher body surveillance was associated with depressive symptoms and, although not significant, tended to be associated with engagement in unhealthy prenatal behaviors. Awareness and appreciation of body functionality were each associated with fewer depressive symptoms and less engagement in unhealthy prenatal behaviors. Supporting our hypotheses, we found that at higher levels of appreciation of body functionality, the relationship between body surveillance and engagement in unhealthy behaviors was attenuated. However, in contrast to our hypotheses, the relationship between body surveillance and depression was stronger at higher levels of awareness of body functionality, and attenuated at lower levels. These findings suggest appreciation of body functionality may buffer negative effects of body surveillance. Future research examining these relationships over the course of pregnancy, and among ethnically and socioeconomically diverse women, is needed.

Journal

Sex RolesSpringer Journals

Published: Apr 15, 2011

References

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