An assessment of body appreciation and its relationship to sexual function in women

Sonya Satinsky, Michael Reece, Barbara Dennis, Stephanie Sanders, Shaowen Bardzell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    121 Scopus citations


    Objectification theory posits internalization of an observer's gaze may negatively impact women's feelings about their bodies, which may subsequently affect their sexual function. Subjective body image and body size (i.e., body mass index [BMI]) have mixed relationships to women's sexuality, but assessment of positive body image as a sign of resistance to objectification has not been researched. This study explored relations between body appreciation and sexual function in women and assessed whether body size impacted this relationship. Cross-sectional data were collected online from 247 women, ages 18 to 58. Body appreciation scores were modestly negatively correlated with BMI, while BMI was not related to sexual function scores. After controlling for sexual orientation, partner status, and age, body appreciation predicted the arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction aspects of sexual function. Practitioners' encouragement of body appreciation may improve sexual function in a way that encouraging a reduction in body size may not.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)137-144
    Number of pages8
    JournalBody Image
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2012

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Social Psychology
    • Applied Psychology
    • Psychology(all)


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