Although internalization of the thin ideal has been extensively researched and is now regarded as a risk factor for eating disturbance, endorsement of the firm, athletic body ideal has received only minimal attention. This short-term longitudinal study explored whether internalization of two aspects of the current cultural ideal (thinness and athleticism) prospectively predicted three potentially deleterious outcomes: body dissatisfaction, dieting, and compulsive exercise. Undergraduate women (N=231) completed self-report measures at the beginning of the academic year and again 7 months later (N=156 at Time 2). Athletic-ideal internalization predicted change in compulsive exercise over the 7-month study period but not body dissatisfaction or dieting; thin-ideal internalization predicted change in all three outcomes. When both internalization measures were tested simultaneously, neither contributed unique variance. Results suggest that athletic-ideal internalization is not as detrimental as thin-ideal internalization.
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