School of Arts and Humanities
Online apparel shopping is popular amongst women and offers salient visual information for making body image and self-worth judgements. Apparel segments which emphasize the value of women's bodies are particularly effective for eliciting low body image and self-worth. Across two studies, we investigated the association between self-reported and experimental online activewear exposure on women's self-worth, body image, appearance attitudes, mood and gaze behavior. In Study 1, participants (N = 399) completed a survey collecting their online apparel shopping habits, body appreciation, self-esteem, appearance comparison tendencies and self-objectification attitudes. Activewear was the second-most popular apparel segment amongst women (after casualwear) and weekly activewear browse time was positively correlated with appearance comparison tendencies, desires to be muscular/athletic and body shame. In Study 2, participants (N = 126) were randomly allocated to browse an activewear, casualwear or homewares website and completed pre and post measures of mood, body image, implicit self-esteem and body gaze behavior. In the activewear condition, there was a significant reduction in positive body image and implicit self-esteem scores. There were no experimental effects for body gaze behavior. These findings illustrate that apparel choices have value for understanding the aetiology of maladaptive body image attitudes and low self-esteem in women.
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