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Rethinking Worldly Possessions: The Relationship between Materialism and Body Appearance for Female Consumers in an Emerging Economy


Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Reto Felix, Department of Business Administration, University of Monterrey, Morones Prieto 4500 Pte., San Pedro Garza García, N.L. 66238, Mexico (,


This article investigates how women in an emerging economy relate the importance of material possessions to the importance they assign to the appearance of their body. The results of two studies demonstrate a very strong and positive relationship between materialism and several measures of body appearance. Study 1 shows strong correlations between materialism and body appearance in a sample of relatively young (m = 18.7 years) and affluent female students from a private university. Using structural equation modeling, Study 2 finds that in a sample of women averaging 40 years, more materialistic women did focus substantially more on body appearance than less materialistic women. Further, antecedents (self-esteem, hedonic attitudes toward advertising, and skepticism toward advertising) and consequences (satisfaction with life) of materialism and body appearance were included in the model. In interpreting the results, it is assumed that individuals prone to materialism apply similar appearance-centered mental schemata to their body as they do to material possessions.