The influence of maternal modeling on body image concerns and eating disturbances in preadolescent girls

Charlotte Handford, Ronald Rapee, Jasmine Fardouly*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Research suggests that mothers may influence the development of body image concerns and eating disturbances in their daughters by modeling negative body image beliefs and unhealthy eating behaviors. However, the causal nature of that mode of influence is yet to be established. This study implemented an experimental design to examine the impact of mothers' modeling of negative comments about their own appearance and diet on their daughters' body image concerns and eating behaviors. Participants were 8–12 year old girls and their mothers (N = 50). While viewing thin-ideal magazine advertisements with their daughter, mothers were instructed to make either negative comments about their own weight, shape, and diet or to make no appearance or diet related comments. Daughters' levels of body esteem, body satisfaction, and eating attitudes were assessed pre- and post-manipulation, and their actual eating habits were measured post-manipulation. Girls whose mothers had made self-critical comments about their own appearance and diet reported lower body esteem, lower body satisfaction, more problematic eating attitudes, and ate significantly fewer sweets than girls whose mothers had not made self-critical comments. These results have implications for disordered eating prevention programs, suggesting that greater emphasis be placed on discouraging negative modeling behaviors among mothers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume100
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • maternal modeling
  • preadolescent girls
  • body image
  • eating pathology

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