Eating Disorders Information (EDI)

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Insecure relationships predict body image problems

Posted by a.marlow on October 10, 2012 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

What causes an eating disorder or, more generally, a body image problem? One theory is that it is a mixture of parents, peers and media- and in the latest edition of Body Image, Hardit & Hannum tested that hypothesis.

Surprisingly, they found that parental critism and peer pressure were very minor factors in creating body dissatisfaction - while, unsurprisingly, the media was found to be a very significant factor indeed. What is interesting, however, is what they discovered about who was affected by the media. It was only those who had "anxious attachments"- which is a technical psychological way of saying that they were insecure in their relationships with other people. It seems, then, that, according to this study at least, a body image problem (and potentially an eating disorder- although this study did not specifically test for that) arises when one does not feel secure with one's friends or family and, surrounded by the values of our current society daily transmitted through the media, concludes that the reason one might not be acceptable to them is because of one's body. This creates dissatisfaction which, in extremes, can lead to psychological conditions like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and body dysmorphia.


Hardit, S. K., & Hannum, J. W., 2012. "Attachment, the tripartite influence model, and the development of body dissatisfaction", Body Image, 9(4), 469-475