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Objectification theory and the tripartite influence model provide useful frameworks for understanding the body image experiences of men and women. However, there is little systematic investigation of how sexual orientation moderates the links between these constructs and body image satisfaction. It has been hypothesized, for example, that the associations of surveillance (i.e., monitoring of one’s appearance due to objectification by others) would be strongest for groups targeted by the male gaze (e.g., gay men, lesbian women, and bisexual men and women). Here we proposed an integrated sociocultural model and examined these pathways in multigroup structural equation models in a national sample of heterosexual, bisexual, and lesbian women (ns = 5395; 598; 213, respectively), and heterosexual, bisexual, and gay men (4869; 194; and 194, respectively) aged 18–65 years. Sexual orientation moderated some of these pathways. The most consistent pattern was that appearance pressures were internalized to a greater extent among bisexual participants. The pathways to poorer body image were generally similar among heterosexual and gay/lesbian men and women. These findings highlight the importance of examining sexual orientation-specific influences on body image across diverse groups, as well as the commonalities in the experiences of men and women across sexual orientations.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Body Image. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Body Image, volume 41, in 2022.

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