Mindfulness, empowerment and feminist identity development as protective factors against women developing body image dissatisfaction

Aileen M. Pidgeon, Elyse McNeil

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Body image dissatisfaction among women is pervasive and associated with increased risk for maladaptive eating practices, poor self-concept, depression and psychological distress (Polivy & Herman, 2002; Wiederman & Pryor, 2000). Although the prevalence of dissatisfaction with body image is high among women (APA, 2000; Kruger, Lee, Ainsworth, & Macera, 2008), few studies to date have conducted an in-depth investigation of interpersonal protective factors affecting body image dissatisfaction. This study examines mindfulness, empowerment and feminist identity development as factors to protect women across the life span from developing body image dissatisfaction. Participants were 199 women ranging in age from 18 to 67 years. A non-probability, convenience sample was employed. The participants completed measures assessing body image dissatisfaction, mindfulness, empowerment and feminist identity development. Regression analyses confirmed predictions that mindfulness, empowerment and feminist identity development significantly predicted body image dissatisfaction among women after controlling for age, dieting frequency and body mass index (BMI). Results of the mediational analysis revealed that empowerment is a partial mediator between feminist identity development and body image dissatisfaction. These findings suggest that interventions designed to increase mindfulness, feminist identity development and empowerment may assist women to resist internalizing that the ideal of thin body shape is important for women and can protect women from developing body image dissatisfaction. Future research could further explore the protective factors identified in this current study, to increase the generalizability of current findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Healing and Caring
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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