Body & Media Lab

Renee Engeln at Northwestern University

Fat talk among college women is both contagious and harmful

Fat talk is a social phenomenon during which women speak negatively with each other about the size/shape of their bodies (Nichter and Vuckovich 1994). In this study, exposure to fat talk from peers was experimentally manipulated to determine the effect … Continue reading

Body talk among college men: Contexts, correlates, and effects

Though researchers are beginning to examine body-related talk in women (often referred to as fat talk), little work has examined how men talk about their bodies with peers. The two studies presented in this article explore body talk among U.S. … Continue reading

“If you’re fat then I’m humongous!”: Content and impact of fat talk among college women

Fat talk (women speaking negatively about the size and shape of their bodies) is a phenomenon that both reflects and creates body dissatisfaction. Our study investigated the content, frequency, and impact of fat talk among college women. Participants (168 female … Continue reading

Assessing women’s negative commentary on their own bodies

Our article details the development of the self-report Negative Body Talk (NBT) scale and five studies (all conducted with samples of U.S. undergraduate women) supporting the psychometric soundness of scores on this measure. The NBT scale measures women’s tendency to … Continue reading

Cognitive responses to idealized media images of women

This study explored college women’s cognitive processing of print advertisements featuring images of highly attractive female models. The relationship of counterarguing (critical processing) and social comparison in response to these images with a number of body image–related variables was examined. … Continue reading

Buying the beauty standard or dreaming of a new life?

Buying a Beauty Standard or Dreaming of a New Life? Expectations Associated with Media Ideals: Psychology of Women Quarterly September 2006 30: 258-266 Read more at Psychology of Women Quarterly

Talking back to the media ideal

This article details the development of the Critical Processing of Beauty Images Scale (CPBI) and studies demonstrating the psychometric soundness of this measure. The CPBI measures women’s tendency to engage in critical processing of media images featuring idealized female beauty. … Continue reading

Here’s looking at you: Self-objectification, body image disturbance, and sorority rush

This study investigated the impact of sorority rush on self-objectification and body image disturbance. First-year undergraduate women either participating (n = 68) or not participating (n = 59) in sorority rush at a U.S. Midwestern university completed online surveys at four time points. It … Continue reading

Tests of objectification theory in gay, lesbian, and community samples

Objectification theory (Fredrickson and Roberts 1997) proposes that women are especially vulnerable to eating disordered behavior when they live in cultures in which their bodies are a constant focus of evaluation. The current study examined whether predictions of objectification theory … Continue reading