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Friday, March 6 • 10:45am - 12:00pm
“I feel so fat”: The relationship between close friend’s negative body talk and women’s body image

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Short Abstract: Our study examined how close female friends’ negative body talk was related to women’s body image. We found that female friend negative’s negative body talk was related to women’s body ideals and women’s own negative body talk. These relationships differed for thin and overweight women. Long Abstract: Our study examined how hearing close female friends talk negatively about their bodies was related to negative body talk and body ideals in thin and overweight women. Research has found that women frequently engage in negative body talk and that this type of conversation increases women’s body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness (Arroyo & Harwood 2012). These studies have typically operationalized negative body talk by having a confederate engage in negative talk in front of participants (Salk & Engeln-Maddox 2012). However, no studies have examined the degree to which women are exposed to negative body talk from their close female friends. Additionally, little research has examined whether the impact of negative body talk differs for thin versus heavy women. Results indicated that women perceive their close friends as engaging in negative body talk much more frequently then they themselves engaged in this talk (M = 2.70, SD = .92 vs. M = 3.70, SD = .92; t(142) = 11.05, p < .000). In addition, the more women heard their close female friends engage in negative body talk, the more likely they were to do so themselves (r = .31, p < .000), but that the relationship was much stronger for thin women (r=.46) than heavy women (r =.15; z = 3.24, p = .001). Results also indicated that the more heavy women heard close female friends fat talk, the thinner they rated their ideal size (r = .39), but this effect was not found for thin women (r = .15, z =2.44, p =.015). The results indicate that women report frequently hearing close friends talk negatively about their bodies and that this type of conversation is related to different outcomes in thin versus overweight women. References Arroyo, A., & Harwood, J. (2012). Exploring the causes and consequences of engaging in fat talk. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 40(2), 167-187. Salk, R.H., & Engeln-Maddox, R. (2012). Fat talk among college women is both contagious and harmful. Sex Roles, 66(9-10), 636-645.

Friday March 6, 2015 10:45am - 12:00pm PST