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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1994 Apr;62(2):252-60.

Sexual orientation and gender as factors in socioculturally acquired vulnerability to body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.

Abstract

This study investigated the hypothesis that gay men and heterosexual women are dissatisfied with their bodies and vulnerable to eating disorders because of a shared emphasis on physical attractiveness and thinness that is based on a desire to attract and please men. Although men place priority on physical attractiveness in evaluating potential partners, women place greater emphasis on other factors, such as personality, status, power, and income. Therefore, lesbians and heterosexual men are less concerned with their own physical attractiveness and, consequently, less dissatisfied with their bodies and less vulnerable to eating disorders. Several instruments measuring body satisfaction, the importance of physical attractiveness, and symptoms of eating disorders were administered to 250 college students. The sample included 53 lesbians, 59 gay men, 62 heterosexual women, and 63 heterosexual men. Multivariate and univariate analyses of variance were used to examine the differences among the scores of lesbians, gay men, heterosexual women, and heterosexual men on these various constructs. The results generally confirmed the research hypothesis. The implications and ramifications these findings have for the understanding of both the psychology of lesbians and gay men and the prevention and treatment of eating disorders are discussed.

PMID:
8201061
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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