Mindfulness, empowerment and feminist identity development as protective factors against women developing body image dissatisfaction
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Body image dissatisfaction among women is pervasive and associated with increased risk for maladaptive eating practices, poor self-concept, depression and psychological distress (Polivy & Herman, 2002; Wiederman & Pryor, 2000). Although the prevalence of dissatisfaction with body image is high among women (APA, 2000; Kruger, Lee, Ainsworth, & Macera, 2008), few studies have done an in-depth investigation of interpersonal protective factors affecting body image dissatisfaction. This study examines mindfulness, empowerment and feminist identity development as factors to protect women across the life span from developing body image dissatisfaction.
Participants were 199 women from the general population and university students ranging in age from 18 to 67 years. The participants completed measures assessing body image dissatisfaction, mindfulness, empowerment and feminist identity development. Regression analyses confirmed predictions that mindfulness, empowerment and feminist identity development significantly predicted body image dissatisfaction among women after controlling for age, dieting frequency and BMI. Results of the mediational analysis revealed that empowerment is a partial mediator between feminist identity development and body image dissatisfaction. These findings suggest that interventions designed to increase mindfulness, feminist identity development and empowerment may assist women to resist internalizing that the thin ideal of body shape is important for women and protect women from developing body image dissatisfaction. Future research could further explore the protective factors identified in this current study to increase the generalizability of current findings.
This document has been peer reviewed.