Differences among feminist and non-feminist women on weight bias internalization, body image, and disordered eating

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Abstract

Background: Research yields mixed results on whether feminist beliefs or self-identification are protective against body image disturbance and eating pathology in non-clinical populations. Further, no studies have examined feminism among those with diagnosed eating disorders. Additionally, previous studies have not examined the relationship between feminist identity and weight stigma. This study investigated these relationships and if there are differences in body image, eating pathology, and weight stigma among feminist identity types in women with eating disorders and college women using ANCOVAs. Methods: Participants completed self-report measures and were women with eating disorders (N = 100) and college women (N = 240). Results: Sixty-four percent of the women with eating disorders and 75.8% of the college women identified as a feminist. An independent samples t-test found a significantly higher weight bias internalization in the clinical eating disorder sample than in the college women sample. No significant interactions were found between sample type and feminist identity for body image or weight bias internalization. Results were consistent when using a dichotomous feminist identity item and a seven-item continuous feminist identity item. Conclusions: Despite the clear impacts of the intersection of weight status and gender, results from this study suggest that identifying as a feminist is not sufficient to combate weight stigma. Findings highlight the need for further research investigating weight bias internalization within eating disorder prevention efforts and interventions.

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Martin-Wagar, C. A., Attaway, S. E., & Melcher, K. A. (2023). Differences among feminist and non-feminist women on weight bias internalization, body image, and disordered eating. Journal of Eating Disorders, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40337-023-00851-7

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