Looking at Body Image: The Organization of Self-Knowledge About Physical Appearance and Its Relation to Disordered Eating



This study examined the organization of self-knowledge, with special attention to beliefs about physical appearance, in three groups of college-aged women: high body dissatisfaction with symptoms of disordered eating; high body dissatisfaction with no symptoms of disorder; and low body dissatisfaction. In the nondisordered, dissatisfied group, negative beliefs about physical appearance were organized in the self-structure in a way that isolated those beliefs and might minimize their impact and importance. This group also displayed adaptive types of self-concept organization (evaluative integration for those with important negative self-beliefs and compartmentalization for those with important positive beliefs) and effective coping strategies. Features of self-structure that characterize the nondisordered, dissatisfied group may provide a useful model for helping individuals with disordered eating cope with their negative physical appearance beliefs.