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Eat Weight Disord. 2003 Sep;8(3):231-7.

Beauty is as beauty does: body image and self-esteem of pageant contestants.

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Coastal Carolina University, College of Education, South Carolina, Conway 29528, USA.


Self-esteem, dieting, and body image of 131 female beauty pageant contestants (mean age 26.0 years) from 43 states were examined by an anonymous survey. Most (89.6%) reported being a pageant finalist or winner and 55.2% had competed at the nationa/international level Over one-fourth (26%) of the women had been told or perceived they had an eating disorder which reportedly began at 16.25 years. Almost half (48.5%) reported wanting to be thinner and 57% were trying to lose weight. Higher self-esteem scores were significantly associated with increased level of competition (i.e.: from local to international pageants), but not with the number of times the women were pageant finalists or winners. Future study is warranted to determine how pageant participation influences self-esteem, body image, and the development of eating disorders.

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