A qualitative examination of body image threats using Social Self-Preservation Theory
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This study sought to identify and describe comfortable and uncomfortable body-related situations of young women, as well as describe their responses to such situations and strategies they used to cope with body-related threats, using Social Self-Preservation Theory (SSPT) as a guiding framework. Interviews were conducted with college women (N=23). A theoretical thematic analysis approach was taken to identify, code, and report themes. In general, participants found it difficult to identify specific comfortable situations and responses in those situations. Comfortable situations were characterized by the presence of supportive others and feelings of general calmness and lowered body awareness or self-presentational concerns. Findings regarding uncomfortable body-related situations indicated that the context (e.g., presence of others, body exposure), responses (e.g., embarrassment, inadequacy, awareness of others' evaluations, faster heart rate), and coping strategies (e.g., avoidance, concealing behaviors) described by participants were consistent with SSPT.
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