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Through the rainbow looking glass: Exploration of the impact of gay community and media exposure on body image, depression and controlling physical appearance in gay men

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Adams, M (2013) Through the rainbow looking glass: Exploration of the impact of gay community and media exposure on body image, depression and controlling physical appearance in gay men. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Results from the literature have shown that gay men report greater susceptibility to appearance manipulation. There is a paucity of research examining factors that influence body image perception for gay men and that exposure to idealised media imagery may play a role in decreased satisfaction with appearance. The current study aimed to explore the relationships between gay identity variables (gay community involvement, gay media exposure, muscular/weight concerns) and body modification behaviours (eating restriction and obligatory/excessive exercise) and depression in a sample of 260 gay men recruited from Australian, American and British gay organisations or interest groups. The study utilised the The Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire – Appearance Scales, Masculine Body Ideal Distress Scale, Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire, Obligatory Exercise Questionnaire, K10, and experimenter derived Identification and Involvement with the Gay Community Scale. Using a path model between these variables, results showed strong and moderate effects between overweight preoccupation and restricted eating (β =.70) and muscular dissatisfaction and obligatory exercise (β =.47). A small significant effect was found between gay media exposure and overweight preoccupation (β =.17), while involvement in the gay community was related to a significant decrease in depressive symptoms (β = -.21). Results suggest that greater exposure to gay community media may relate to concerns about being fat. Higher levels of weight and muscle dissatisfaction may also relate to eating pathology risk and pathological exercise in order to conform to an idealised body. This is the first study to examine trimness and muscularity alongside two modification behaviours in gay men. The results suggest that gay men’s body image is related to their perceptions of both bodyweight and satisfaction with levels of muscle tone. Findings also suggest involvement in the gay community is associated with reduced mood problems in gay men, though the mechanism for this is not clear. The clinical implications of the findings are that psychologists working with gay male clients who present with body image difficulties should be mindful that the relationship between exercise fixation and eating problems needs to be assessed. Future research should explore whether gay men from specific gay subcultures (which value different forms of appearance) are subject to similar forms of body manipulation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: gay community: media; body Image: restricted eating; exercise
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Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2014 23:24
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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