Sex Roles, Vol. 52, Nos. 9/10, May 2005 (
Women Who Objectify Other Women: The Vicious
Circle of Objectiﬁcation?
and Duane Hargreaves
This study was designed to test the extent to which women who self-objectify also ob-
jectify other women. One hundred thirty-two university students and their friends (64
women and 68 men) completed three questionnaires: (1) Noll and Fredrickson’s (1998)
Self-Objectiﬁcation Questionnaire, (2) a modiﬁed version of that questionnaire that mea-
sured individuals’ objectiﬁcation of others, and (3) Slade, Dewey, Newton, and Brodie’s
(1990) Body Cathexis scale. Women were more likely than men to self-objectify. Self-
objectiﬁcation was negatively related to body satisfaction for women but not for men. Both
women and men objectiﬁed women more than they objectiﬁed men, although women’s
objectiﬁcation of other women was not signiﬁcantly different than their objectiﬁcation of
men. Men objectiﬁed women more than women did, and women objectiﬁed men more
than men did. Women were more likely to objectify other women than to objectify them-
selves. Higher self-objectiﬁcation among both women and men was related to increased
objectiﬁcation of other women and men, but the relationships were stronger for women.
Results indicate that women also objectify women, although not to the degree exhibited
KEY WORDS: self-objectiﬁcation; objectiﬁcation; women; men.
Women, more than men, express dissatisfaction
with their bodies (e.g., Furnham, Badmin, & Sneade,
2002). Body dissatisfaction has been linked to a num-
ber of negative consequences for women, including
lowered self-esteem (Richards, Caspar, & Larson,
1990), depression (McCreary & Sasse, 2001), exces-
sive dieting (Polivy & Herman, 1985), and disor-
dered eating (Rieder & Ruderman, 2001). In fact,
some authors have suggested that body dissatisfac-
tion may be the “most consistent” predictor of eat-
ing disturbance (Thompson, Heinberg, Altabe, &
Tantleff-Dunn, 1999) and “an essential precursor” to
eating disorders (Polivy & Herman, 2002).
School of Social Sciences and Liberal Studies, Charles Sturt Uni-
versity, Bathurst, Australia.
University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at School of Social
Sciences and Liberal Studies, Charles Sturt University, Panorama
Avenue, Bathurst, New South Wales, 2795, Australia; e-mail:
One possible explanation for why women are
likely to develop body dissatisfaction is provided by
Fredrickson and Roberts’ (1997) objectiﬁcation the-
ory. The theory proposes that Westernized societies
sexually objectify the female body. That is, women’s
bodies are objects to be looked at and evaluated.
Women tend to be judged on the basis of what they
look like, not who they are, and the more positive
the evaluation, the more likely a woman is to be val-
ued by others. The perceived pressure to look good
is so pervasive and strong, wrote Fredrickson and
Roberts, that many women internalize the prevail-
ing sociocultural attitudes. That is, they self-objectify;
they take on the perspective of others, and therefore
come to believe that they are deﬁned by how they
look. Self-objectiﬁcation, in turn, leads women to ex-
perience appearance anxiety and body shame, and a
robust literature has emerged to show that women
who place undue emphasis on appearance are more
likely to report some of the negative psychological
and health consequences noted earlier, for example,
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.