Thinspiration and Fatspiration on Body Dissatisfaction: The Roles of Social Comparisons and Anti-Fat Attitudes
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Thinspiration refers to images of extremely thin women meant to inspire and motivate viewers to engage in or maintain disordered eating. Fatspiration consists of images of overweight to morbidly obese women meant to warn viewers about what could happen to them if they do not engage in disordered eating behaviors. Both have the same goal: to achieve the thin-ideal body that is not only perpetuated by the media but is also practically impossible for the average women to achieve by healthy means. For this study, female undergraduates (n = 66) reported on social comparisons, sociocultural pressures, anti-fat attitudes, internalization of body ideals, and disordered eating behaviors. They were then randomly assigned to view either thinspiration or fatspiration images before completing a body dissatisfaction scale. No differences in body dissatisfaction were found between exposure groups. For both groups, upward appearance-based social comparisons and disordered eating symptomatology were positively correlated with body dissatisfaction. For the thinspiration group only, internalization of the thin ideal was positively correlated with body dissatisfaction, and for the fatspiration group only, anti-fat willpower perception was positively correlated with body dissatisfaction. Overall, the present findings suggest thinspiration imagery increases body dissatisfaction in those who internalize the thin ideal, whereas fatspiration imagery increases body dissatisfaction in those with greater anti-fat attitudes. Other than these differences, fatspiration is similar to thinspiration in terms of its effect on body dissatisfaction and therefore warrants further investigation. This research adds to the evidence of negative consequences of viewing thinspiration material, while forming the foundation of evidence that viewing fatspiration material may also result in negative consequences.