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Feminism may lead to better body image

Alan Flurry

Important new research from communication studies describing how mothers and daughters who follow feminist principles speak more positively about their bodies.

Published in Body Image, the study found that feminist mothers and their daughters felt more positively about their bodies and less shame about how their bodies look than those who don’t ascribe to feminist ideals. Additionally, the paper showed that how mothers view and speak about their bodies can affect how their daughters view their own and vice versa:

The researchers focused on feminist embodiment, which they define as women rejecting societal norms and expectations about what they should look like while also feeling empowered and embracing their own bodies for their strengths and uniqueness.

Led by Analisa Arroyo, lead author of the study and an associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the researchers surveyed 169 mother-daughter pairs for the study, but they specifically didn’t ask participants whether they self-identified as feminists. Instead, they analyzed participants’ feelings about their own power as a woman, how connected they feel to their bodies and how in control they feel of their own lives, in addition to other measures of feminist values.

Previous research linked negative comments about one’s own body to negative outcomes such as depression, disordered eating, body dissatisfaction and more. The present study showed that when daughters hear their mothers talk negatively about themselves, the daughters’ own body image takes a hit.

Daughters who embraced their bodies and spoke positively about themselves, though, served as a positive influence for their mothers. Moms with more body-positive daughters were more likely to have a better body image of themselves.

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Photo via Getty Images.


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