Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research

Gender Differences in Physical Fitness, Body Shape Satisfaction, and Body Figure Preferences

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research

Gender Differences in Physical Fitness, Body Shape Satisfaction, and Body Figure Preferences

Article excerpt

The present study aimed to determine the relationship between physical fitness and body shape satisfaction; gender and age differences in physical fitness, body shape satisfaction, and body figure preferences. Participants (35 men and 34 women with age range 18-32 years) were taken from fitness centers and jogging tracks of Lahore city. It was expected that gender related differences in physical fitness, body shape satisfaction, and body figure preferences would appear, with women exhibiting greater concerns as compared to men. Data was collected using the protocols: Eating Attitudes Test (Garner & Garfinkel, 1979), Body Shape Questionnaire (Cooper, Taylor, Cooper, & Fairburn, 1987), Body Figure Preferences Test (Stunkard & Schulsinger, 1983), and Physical Activities Test (Ashfaq, 2008). Pearson Product Moment correlations, independent sample t-test, chi squares, and cross tabulation were conducted for data analyses. Findings revealed significant positive relationship between physical fitness and body shape concern. Gender differences were found only on body shape as women exhibited greater dissatisfaction and higher differences on current and ideal body shape as compared to men, however, no gender differences in physical fitness and body shape satisfaction were found.

Keywords: physical fitness, body shape satisfaction, body figure preferences

Body image is how one perceives, thinks, and feels about one's own body and physical appearance. Body image is a complex set of perceptions and attitudes toward size, shape, aesthetics, and experience of one's body (Keeton, Cash, & Brown, 1 990). Body shape satisfaction is to what extent a person is satisfied with his weight, size, body shape, and physical appearance. Body image is a subjective concept, produced by inter- and intra-personal dynamics, and not actual physical body or outsider's impression of it (Cash & Pruzinsky, 1990; Hutchinson, 1994). Body image is often measured by asking the subject to rate their current and ideal body shape using a series of depictions. The difference between these two values is the amount of body dissatisfaction. The desire to lose weight has been shown to be highly correlated with poor body image and negative body image is formed over a lifetime from many different influences including family, peer group, media, and social pressure (Monteath & McCabe, 1997).

Abell and Richards (1996) examined body shape satisfaction and self-esteem of 41 men and 43 women. They found that men are significantly more dissatisfied than women with their weight, as men reported desire to be heavier. Both men and women reported a positive significant relationship between overall body image and selfesteem. Women also reported positive significant relationship between satisfaction with body shape and self-esteem (significantly stronger for upper class than for lower class women). Further, women who expressed greater dissatisfaction with their weight and body shape tend to have lower self-esteem scores than women who have a healthier body image. Women are more at risk than men are for problems related to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating behavior. Compared to men, women arc more concerned with their appearance; more likely to perceive themselves as heavier than they actually are; more dissatisfied with their bodies; more likely to engage in various disordered eating behaviors; and also desire to lose more weight. More recent research also indicates that although a relationship between body satisfaction and self-esteem exists in both men and women, but this relation may be stronger for women than it is for men (Carraca et al., 2011 ; Safir, Shimrit, & Rosenmann, 2005).

In one of earliest reported stndies, Fallon and Rozin (1985) asked men and women participants to rate different aspects of their body image on a set of nine figure drawings, which ranged from very thin to very heavy. All participants were instructed to indicate which fignre most closely resembled their current figure; which fignre was the ideal figure; as well as which figure they thought was the most attractive to the other sex. …

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