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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00864

Body dissatisfaction, importance of appearance and body appreciation in men and women over the lifespan Provisionally accepted The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon. Notify me

  • 1Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Institute of Psychology, University of Osnabrück, Germany
  • 2Department of Research Methodology, Diagnostics & Evaluation, Institute of Psychology, Osnabrück University, Germany
  • 3Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Münster, Germany

Body image disturbance is associated with several mental disorders, including eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder. Previous research on body image has focused mostly on women, largely neglecting body image in men. Studies assessing body image over the lifespan in a large population comprising males and females have rarely included participants aged 50 years and older. Furthermore, few studies have conducted comparisons of body image over the lifespan across genders. With regard to measurement, body image has often been assessed only in terms of body dissatisfaction, disregarding further aspects such as body appreciation or the importance of one’s appearance. The aim of this study was therefore to explore different aspects of body image in the general German-speaking population and to compare men and women of various age groups. Participants were recruited via social media and flyers and completed a short online survey comprising different questionnaires about body image. Body dissatisfaction, importance of one’s appearance, the number of hours per day participants would invest and the number of years they would sacrifice to achieve their ideal appearance, and body appreciation were assessed and analyzed with respect to gender and age differences. General and generalized linear models were used to examine the impact of age and gender. Body dissatisfaction was higher in women than in men and was unaffected by increasing age in women. Importance of appearance was higher in women than in men, but only for men did the importance of appearance decrease with age. Compared to men, women stated that they would invest more hours of their lives to achieve their ideal appearance. For both genders, the number of years that participants would sacrifice to achieve their ideal appearance decreased with age. With increasing age, body appreciation was higher in women than in men. Contrary to expectation, in women, increasing age predicted an increase in body appreciation. Men’s and women’s body image appears to have neutral to slightly positive connotations in the general population, irrespective of gender and age.

Keywords: body image, Body Dissatisfaction, body appreciation, importance of appearance, Gender comparison, age, Lifespan

Received: 14 Jul 2019; Accepted: 04 Nov 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Quittkat, Hartmann, Düsing, Buhlmann and Vocks. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Hannah L. Quittkat, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Institute of Psychology, University of Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Lower Saxony, Germany,