Early adolescents' body dysmorphic symptoms as compensatory responses to parental appearance messages and appearance-based rejection sensitivity

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Body dysmorphic disorderÿ(BDD) is marked by high distress and behavioral and functional impairments due to preoccupation with perceived appearance anomalies. Our aim was to examine parental correlates of offspring?s symptoms characteristic of BDD, testing both direct associations and indirect associations via appearance-based rejection sensitivity (appearance-RS). Surveys were completed by 302 Australian adolescents (9?14 years) and their parents. Findings indicated parents? weight and appearance teasing and child-report (but not parent-report) of parental negative attitudes about weight and appearance were uniquely associated with offspring?s heightened BDD-like symptoms, and associations were partially indirect via adolescents? appearance-RS. Findings support theory that identifies parents as socializers of children?s appearance concerns, and show that BDD-like symptoms may be partly elevated because of the mediating role of appearance-RS. We propose that BDD symptoms could partly emerge as compensatory responses to parents? appearance messages, and the associated bias to expect and perceive rejection based on one?s appearance.

AuthorDensham, Kelly; Webb, Haley J.; Zimmer-Gembeck, Melanie J.; Nesdale, Drew; Downey, Geraldine
JournalBody Image

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