Sexism and Self-objectification

In 1997, Fredrickson and Roberts proposed objectification theory as a framework for understanding the effects of sexual objectification on women. Self-objectification, or the internalization of an (objectified) external view of oneself fosters body shame, appearance anxiety, and in turn disordered eating, depressive symptoms, sexual dysfunction, etc (see Moradi & Huang, 2008 for a review of this literature).

Recently, our lab has been studying self-objectification experiences beyond college-aged, primarily white, women. For example, Choma and Prusaczyk (2018) found that higher skin tone surveillance among African American women in the U.S. and Indian women in India related to higher skin colour dissatisfaction and skin bleaching. However, the relations with skin colour dissatisfaction were weaker, and the relations with skin bleaching stronger, among women who more strongly endorsed system justifying beliefs like BJW. [This paper received the 2019 Babladelis Award for Best paper published in PWQ in 2018].Subsequent research by Katie Harper and Becky Choma revealed that internalizing a White ideal predicted skin tone and hair texture dissatisfaction, and skin bleaching among African American and Indian women. These associations were explained by greater skin tone surveillance and hair texture surveillance. Research in our lab has also shown that skin tone surveillance relates to greater depression and lower life satisfaction (Prusaczyk & Choma).

Another line of research has been investigating self-objectification experiences of women who have recently had a baby. For more information, please see the “Baby-Body Study” section of the website.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono At