Patterns of past and present body esteem: do they matter?
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SubjectBody image in women; Self-perception in women; Women sexual behavior; Self-esteem in women; Women college students United States
The present study examined the relationship between patterns of perceptions of body image/esteem (past and present) and sexual behavior in young women during emerging adulthood. One hundred and forty-eight participants completed an online survey which measured body image perception and aspects of sexual behavior. Using past body perceptions (retrospective) and current body perceptions, participants were placed into four groups—those who were consistently positive in their body esteem, those who were consistently negative in their body esteem, and those who perceived a change in body esteem. These groups were then used as independent variables to compare women across sexual desire, sexual confidence, and body image perceptions. Change in perceptions of body esteem had significant effects on all of the study variables except sexual desire. Several patterns emerged from the results of this study. Among the most prevalent included: Women who were consistently positive in their body esteem had higher levels of body area satisfaction, appearance satisfaction, sexual desire, and sexual confidence; having had a positive body image perception at some point in the past seems to benefit women’s body esteem in emerging adulthood; and women who had a consistently negative body image perception report lower body area satisfaction, sexual desire, and sexual confidence. The results indicate that perceived body esteem, both past and current, is related to higher levels of body satisfaction, more positive appearance evaluations, and lower self weight classification, all of which have not been explored in previous research. Therefore, those who have more positive body esteem and have always had positive body esteem are more also more likely to have a positive body image in emerging adulthood.
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