Body Talk

Examining How Personality and Social Factors Influence Eating and Exercise Behavior

Welcome to Body Talk

Talking about body image, eating, and exercise

Welcome to my blog, Body Talk, which will explore how personality and social factors influence eating behavior. As a woman, a mother of a four-year-old, and a college professor, I'll be focusing more on issues of how such factors influence women's eating and exercise behavior, but I'll also try to find examples that relate to men (and yes, such factors DO exist -- just fewer people study them so we know less about what they are and how they work).

Here are some of the topics look forward to writing about in the weeks/months/years (?) ahead:

The consequences of having very thin images of women in the media on "average women's" body self-esteem. For example, if you average the Miss America winners over time, the composite winner has an average weight of just over 121 pounds; her height is 5 feet, 6-1/2 inches (which would translate to a pretty small BMI).

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Why college women feel more ashamed buying a Snickers bar in a drugstore than buying tampons, condoms, or a pregnancy test. As one who really like chocolates, this finding really points to the pressure women feel to appear as if they aren't ever hungry in order to appear attractive and feminine.

 

Why women often see other women as thinner than they actually are. This finding may surprise you ... but in my own research at both Princeton University and Amherst College, I've found that women often misperceive other women on campus as eating less and exercising more than they themselves do. Unfortunately, this perception (even though it is wrong) is associated with more frequent disordered eating behaviors.

 

 

If there are topics you are particularly interested in related to body image, let me know and I'll try to cover as many as I can. I look forward to an interesting dialogue about the many factors that influence eating, exercise, and body image ... thanks for sharing the journey with me.

Catherine Sanderson, Ph.D., is a social psychologist at Amherst College.

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