Social likeability, conformity, and body talk: Does fat talk have a normative rival in female body image conversations?

Body Image. 2009 Sep;6(4):292-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2009.07.005. Epub 2009 Aug 11.


Fat talk, dialogues among women involving negative body-focused discussions, was studied as a function of conformity and social likeability through the use of four vignettes depicting young women in conversation. Using a 2 (body presentation style of the group: negative or positive)x2 (body presentation style of the target, Jenny: negative or positive) factorial design, 215 college women (92.1% non-Hispanic Caucasian) read one of four vignettes in a classroom setting and made ratings on a social likeability scale. Participants' personal ratings of Jenny's likeability were higher when she spoke positively about her body, whereas they expected the other group members in the vignette to like Jenny more when she conformed to the group's body presentation style. This study is the first to support two competing norms for women's body image-the existing norm to fat talk versus a newly documented norm that some women like others who express body acceptance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Image*
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Social Conformity*
  • Social Desirability*
  • Social Environment
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Young Adult