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Int J Eat Disord. 1996 Sep;20(2):135-41.

The influence of sexual orientation on body dissatisfaction in adult men and women.

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1
Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8205, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Whereas gay culture's presumed emphasis on physical appearance may potentiate body dissatisfaction, lesbian culture's seeming lack of emphasis on appearance may protect against body dissatisfaction. We examined body dissatisfaction, associated psychosocial variables, and affiliation with the gay and lesbian community.

METHOD:

Self-report measures were administered to 257 subjects (69 lesbians, 72 heterosexual women, 58 gay men, and 58 heterosexual men).

RESULTS:

Compared with heterosexual men, gay men reported significantly more body dissatisfaction and more distress in many of the psychosocial areas related to body dissatisfaction. In contrast, lesbians and heterosexual women did not differ in these areas. Although affiliation with the gay community was associated with body dissatisfaction in gay men, affiliation with the lesbian community was unrelated to body dissatisfaction in lesbians.

DISCUSSION:

It seems that aspects of the gay community increase vulnerability to body dissatisfaction, yet the values of the lesbian community do not seem to be protective against body dissatisfaction.

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