Body Comparisons Compromise the Benefits Body Diversity Exposure has on Body Satisfaction Among Female Adolescents and Young Adult Women

Shir Ada Basson, Noam Weinbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sociocultural expectations to conform to a thin beauty ideal often lead women to evaluate themselves based on physical appearance. This evaluation process can be expressed through active engagement in body comparisons which increases the risk of body dissatisfaction. Studies have also highlighted protective factors for body dissatisfaction, such as exposure to diverse body sizes. However, past literature has insufficiently addressed the links between risk and protective factors for body dissatisfaction. The current study used an experimental approach to examine if different forms of body comparisons modulate the beneficial influence of body-diversity exposure on body dissatisfaction. The sample included 241 female adolescents and young women who were randomly allocated to one of three experimental groups. All groups were presented with a sequence of photos showing pairs of women with diverse body sizes. Participants either watched the figures on screen naturally, compared the body sizes of the two figures, or compared their own body size to that of the figures presented. The results showed that merely watching photos that depict body diversity or comparing the size of others’ bodies reduced state body dissatisfaction. However, watching the same photos while comparing one’s own body with others’ abolished the benefits of body-diversity exposure on body dissatisfaction and even increased body dissatisfaction among those with higher levels of trait body dissatisfaction. Age did not moderate the results. The study highlights the importance of addressing body comparisons in the framework of positive body image programs that promote exposure to body diversity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSex Roles
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Adolescent girls
  • Adult women
  • Body comparison
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Body diversity
  • Experiment
  • Thin-ideal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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