Do Religious Commitments, General Commitments, and Religious Affirmations Mitigate the Negative Effects of Exposure to Thin Ideals?
Dr. Mary Inman
Being committed to God should foster positive body image in women because of the belief of God’s unconditional love (religious commitment) and/or because one is pursuing an important goal (commitment in general). Might reading Biblicallyaffirming statements increase feeling loved? We tested the relationships among religious commitment, general commitment, and satisfaction in 111 women at a religious-affiliated college. We tested whether religious-affirming statements buffered against exposure to thin models for everyone, or for women with strong religious commitment. Women completed the commitment scales and baseline body measures (body esteem, body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, dieting). They were matched and randomly assigned to read one set of affirming statements, viewed pictures of thin women, and completed body measures again. Reading religious affirmations increased feeling loved and accepted. General commitment was positively related to body esteem, body satisfaction, and healthy dieting. Religious commitment was positively related to body esteem and satisfaction. Religious commitment buffered against exposure to ultra-thin models: Women who were strongly (but not weakly) religiously committed felt happier with their body appearance and weight.
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