Negative effects of viewing images of thin and attractive models have been well documented. However, these models are typically presented in an objectified, passive form with a focus on the aesthetic qualities of the body. Little is known about women’s responses to models presented in an active form, with a focus on athleticism and performance. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to test body conceptualization theory by exposing women to models presented with a focus on the body-as-object (BAO), the body-as-process (BAP), or images of scenery, and to examine whether a desire to achieve an athletic body interacted with these effects. A convenience sample of 160 women was recruited from the general public, gyms, and university in a regional Australian area. Participants completed pre- and post-test measures of state mood, fitness and body satisfaction as well as a trait measure of athletic internalization. Results showed that exposure to either BAP or BAO images produced similar negative outcomes compared to exposure to scenery. Thus, emphasis on performance cues still elicits negative self-evaluations. However, differences between women high and low on athletic internalization were primarily found in response to the BAO images. That is, women who desired an athletic physique reported greater depression, anger and feelings of fatness after viewing the posed models compared to women who expressed less desire for an athletic body shape. Further research is needed around the ways in which athletic images and athletic internalization can be used to foster a more positive body image.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 18, 2014
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