Constructing body image in university women: The relationship between self-esteem, self-compassion, and intuitive eating

Peta Berenice Stapleton, Ankita Nikalje

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Body image related concerns among women are well researched. However, this research has consistently focused on identifying pathological and maladaptive correlates of body image. Body image research has been based on the assumption that a positive body image is merely an absence of or is defined by low levels of a negative body image. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the relationship between self-esteem, self-compassion and intuitive eating in conceptualising body image related avoidance behaviours. Female university students (N = 137) completed four measures online: the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Self-Compassion Scale of Neff, Intuitive Eating Scale of Tylka, and Body Image Avoidance Questionnaire of Rosen, Srebnik, Satzberg and Wendt. Consistent with previous research, both self-compassion and intuitive eating were found to predict unique variance in avoidance behaviours, over and above the effect of self-esteem. However,contrary to expectations, intuitive eating was not found to be affected by body mass index (BMI).Findings of this study suggest that both self-compassion and intuitive eating are positive correlates of positive body image-related constructs. The findings of this study are discussed in light of clinical interventions, and directions for future research in the body image field that focuses on identifying adaptive self-relating attitudes and eating behaviours that can be modified to promote the development of a positive body image.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Healing and Caring
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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