Body image in emerging adults: The protective role of self-compassion

Body Image. 2017 Sep;22:148-155. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2017.07.003. Epub 2017 Aug 9.


Self-compassion is thought to protect from body image concerns. However, the mechanisms of this effect remain unclear. This study examined three positive dimensions of self-compassion as moderators of the mediated relationship between perceived overweight status, appearance comparison, and appearance esteem. A sample of 232 youth aged 13-18 years, mean=18.36 (SD=1.5) years, reported on appearance esteem, appearance comparison, perceived weight status, and self-compassion dimensions including self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Among boys, mindfulness and common humanity moderated the perceived weight status to appearance comparison pathway of the mediation (ps=.01), such that this relationship was weaker among boys with higher levels of these dimensions of self-compassion. These findings were not replicated among girls. None of the self-compassion dimensions moderated the appearance comparison to appearance esteem pathway. Self-compassion dimensions that decrease the focus on the self may protect against body image concerns among boys.

Keywords: Appearance comparison; Body image; Emerging adults; Perceived weight status; Self-compassion.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Factors