Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

The Naked Truth: Development of a Scale Designed to Measure Male Body Image Self-Consciousness during Physical Intimacy

Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

The Naked Truth: Development of a Scale Designed to Measure Male Body Image Self-Consciousness during Physical Intimacy

Article excerpt

Body image has been described as a multidimensional phenomenon that includes self-perceptions and attitudes regarding one's physical appearance. Two core facets of body image attitudes are evaluative thoughts about one's body and the psychological investment or importance one places on one's appearance (Cash, 2002). Historically, the emphasis in body image literature has been on women and thinness (Bergeron & Tylka, 2007). However, in the past decade, the topic of male body image has garnered greater attention, with researchers documenting how the male physique is represented in cultural artefacts such as magazines (e.g., Farquhar & Wasylkiw, 2007; Harrison & Bond, 2007; Leit, Pope, & Gray, 2001 ; Olivardia, 2002), toys (Pope, Olivardia, Gruber, & Borowiecki, 1999), and television programmes (Fouts & Vaughan, 2002; Lin, 1998: Soulliere & Blair, 2006). Additionally, researchers investigating male-oriented body phenomena such as the drive for muscularity (for a review of this construct, see Morrison. Morrison, & McCann, 2006) have found that substantial proportions of male participants are dissatisfied with their physical appearance (e.g., Hatoum & Belle, 2004; Olivardia, Pope, Borowiecki, & Cohane. 2004; Vartanian, Giant, & Passino, 200l).

A growing area of research points to the role of body image attitudes in human sexual functioning. In this regard, body image may include an evaluation of one's overall physical attractiveness as well as evaluations of various parts of the body (e.g., genitals and buttocks). It should be noted that such evaluations may be general, enduring or may arise from specific contextual factors (Cash, Maikkula, & Yamamiya, 2004). Sexual functioning entails an intricate interplay of thoughts, feelings, physical processes and behaviours. It encompasses one's experience and how well one functions within a particular episode of sexual activity (Wiederman, 2002). Faith and Schare (1993) and Murslein and Holden (1979 as cited in Ackard, Kearney-Cooke, & Peterson, 2000) documented a direct relationship between body satisfaction and sexual experience. Using samples of college students, the results of these studies indicate that participants who evidenced more negative self-perceptions of their physical appearance described themselves as less sexually active. (1)

Wiederman and Hurst (1998) explored the relationship between physical attractiveness and body image in relation to sexual experience and sexual esteem in a sample of young undergraduate women aged 18 to 21 (N = 192). Those who were in a relationship (n = 94) and had engaged in vaginal intercourse (n = 144) had a lower body mass index (BMI) and were rated as more facially attractive by experimenters in comparison to those who were not currently in a relationship (n = 98) and were virgins (n = 48). The authors also reported that participants who had received oral sex (n = 155) perceived their bodies to be more attractive when compared to women who had never experienced cunnilingus (n = 37). In addition, women who were higher in sexual esteem (i.e., the tendency to evaluate oneself positively as a sexual being; see Mayers, Heller, & Heller, 2003) believed themselves to be more attractive.

More recently, Ackard et al. (2000) examined the relationship between body image, sexual practises, and other facets of self-evaluation among a large sample of female readers of Shape magazine. Findings revealed that satisfaction with one's body appeared to play a significant role in predicting frequency initiating sex and achieving orgasm, comfort with new sexual acts, and confidence in one's ability to pleasure a partner sexually. It was clear from this study that women who evidenced greater body satisfaction had a higher frequency of sexual activity and were more comfortable in sexual situations. Collectively, these findings suggest that self-consciousness about one's sexual attractiveness may be a mediating factor in associations between women's body size. …

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