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Positive and negative body-related comments and their relationship with body dissatisfaction in middle-aged women

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We examined the relationship between body-related comments recalled across the life span and current body esteem among 898 54-year-old female participants from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development. A significant effect of negative comments while growing up, which was independent of comments from partner, suggests an enduring adverse impact of these early comments on midlife body esteem. There was no evidence that the detrimental effect of negative comments recalled while growing up could be reversed by compliments from one's partner. Partner comments (positive or negative) had a greater impact on the body esteem of thinner women and of women who had received positive comments while growing up. Results suggest that an impact of social feedback on body esteem is not restricted to young samples, and that comments received in adulthood (and not just during childhood or adolescence) should be taken into account.
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Keywords: Body image; Body-related comments; Middle-aged women; Teasing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Community Health Sciences University of Calgary G230 Health Sciences Bldg. 3330 Hospital Dr. NW Calgary AB Canada T2N 4N1 2: Department of Epidemiology and Public Health University College London MRC National Survey of Health and Development 1-19 Torrington Place London UK WC1E 6BT 3: Department of Social and Preventive Medicine and G.R.I.S. University of Montreal P.O. Box 6128 Downtown Station Montreal QC Canada H3C 3J7

Publication date: April 1, 2004

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