The impacts of exposure to fat talk and fat talk challenging through social media on women
Fat talk, conversations including peers mutually degrading their own bodies, has become increasingly commonplace among women in the United States (U.S.). Decades of research has revealed fat talk conversations result in increased body dissatisfaction. With the popularity of social networking sites, it is likely that fat talk conversations saturate the profile pages of many. However, few have researched the differing impacts of viewing fat talk conversations online. Researchers have become interested in ways to protect women against the deleterious impacts of witnessing fat talk conversations. The current investigation aimed to fill gaps in the literature by studying the reactions of 613 women participants who viewed fat talk conversations of overweight and thin women on Facebook. The conversations were either perpetuated or challenged by other simulated Facebook users. Participants viewed either a thin or a fat woman of the same ethnicity as the participant. After viewing the fat talk conversations, participants completed a demographic questionnaire; questions from Project EAT (Larson, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, van den Berg, & Hannan, 2011), assessing for body image; the Body Dissatisfaction Subscale of the Eating Disorder Iventory-3 (Garner, 2004), assessing for body dissatisfaction; and the Self-Objectification Questionnaire (Noll & Fredrickson, 1998), assessing for self-objectification. The investigator hypothesized that participants who viewed a thin woman engaging in fat talk that was perpetuated would have the highest body dissatisfaction and highest levels of self-objectification of any of the experimental conditions, which was not supported in the findings. The investigator also hypothesized that participants who viewed an overweight woman engaging in fat talk that was challenged would have the lowest body dissatisfaction and lowest levels of self-objectification of any of the experimental conditions, which was also not supported in the findings. The investigator expected to find differing impacts on body dissatisfaction and self-objectification based on race/ethnicity, body size, and sexual orientation which was partially supported: race and perceived weight predicted body dissatisfaction, while BMI and perceived weight predicted self-objectification. Hypotheses were tested with between subjects ANOVAs and a multiple regression. Results of an exploratory analysis revealed a significant difference in body dissatisfaction between racial groups.