Date of Award

8-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Dawn M. Szymanski

Committee Members

Gina P. Owens, Joseph R. Miles, Donna M. Braquet

Abstract

Given the gendered nature of body dissatisfaction and the especially varied experience of gender identity within lesbian subculture, the current study investigated how lesbians’ gender identities may account for differences in lesbian body dissatisfaction. More specifically, I examined gender identity, body-gender identity incongruence, and lesbian subtype as predictors of lesbian body dissatisfaction. In addition, I examined the potential moderating role of internalization of trait appearance ideals (both thin and mesomorphic ideals) in the gender identityàbody dissatisfaction link. The current study of 427 lesbians revealed that some aspects of gender identity uniquely predict lesbian body dissatisfaction, namely measures assessing stereotypical male or female characteristics. Identification with femininity was related to more negative appearance appraisals. Identification with masculinity was related to less negative appearance appraisals, preoccupation with weight, and self-perception of being overweight, and greater body areas satisfaction. Body-gender identity incongruence was also uniquely related to more overweight preoccupation and less body areas satisfaction. Lesbian subtype predicted body dissatisfaction, with femme lesbians reporting greater investment in appearance than any other subtype, and greater overweight preoccupation and body areas dissatisfaction compared to butch lesbians. Finally, both thin and mesomorphic ideal internalization moderated the relationship between gender expression–butch and investment in appearance.

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