The swimsuit issue: Correlates of body image in a sample of 52,677 heterosexual adults

Body Image. 2006 Dec;3(4):413-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2006.08.002. Epub 2006 Sep 11.


Past research on adults' body image has typically used small convenience samples, limiting the ability to examine associations of personal characteristics to body satisfaction. This study of 52,677 heterosexual adults ages 18-65 examined associations of body satisfaction to age, height, gender, and body mass index (BMI). Age and height were mostly unrelated to body satisfaction. Consistent with an Objectification Theory perspective, fewer men than women reported being too heavy (41% versus 61%), rated their body as unattractive (11% versus 21%), or avoided wearing a swimsuit in public (16% versus 31%). Men felt better about their bodies than women across most of the weight span, although among underweight individuals, women felt better than men. Slender women (BMIs 14.5-22.49) were more satisfied than most other women (BMIs 22.5-40.5). Among men, underweight and obese men were least satisfied. These findings highlight gender differences in the association of weight to body satisfaction.