It’s Not the Size of the Boat or the Motion of the Ocean: The Role of Self-Objectification, Appearance Anxiety, and Depression in Female Sexual Functioning

Jennifer A. Vencill, Elliot A. Tebbe, Sheila Garos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research on psychological factors related to female sexual functioning has been growing in recent years. Our study draws on the existing sexual health literature and objectification theory to test a model of female sexual functioning. Using structural equation modeling, we examined the associations of body surveillance and internalization of cultural standards of beauty with appearance anxiety, depression, and sexual health (i.e., physical sexual functioning and subjective sexual well-being) in a sample of 426 sexually active, heterosexual, cisgender women. Further, we investigated the role of depression and appearance anxiety as mediators of the associations of body surveillance and internalization of cultural standards of beauty with sexual health. Our findings contribute to the growing body of empirical research that examines the role of sociocultural and psychological factors in female sexual functioning. Results suggest that depression and appearance anxiety fully mediated the relations of body surveillance with sexual well-being. However, internalization of cultural standards of beauty was not significant with any study outcomes. These findings expand on existing objectification theory literature by elucidating the associations of body surveillance and internalization of cultural standards of beauty with sexual functioning as well as by highlighting the importance of attending to body image, appearance anxiety, and depression when working clinically with women reporting concerns with their sexual functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-483
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Keywords

  • body image
  • depression
  • objectification
  • physical attractiveness
  • sexual function disturbance
  • sexual functioning
  • sexual satisfaction
  • sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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