“It’s a comparison thing, isn’t it?”: Lesbian and bisexual women’s accounts of how partner relationships shape their feelings about their body and appearance

Huxley, C., Clarke, V. and Halliwell, E. (2011) “It’s a comparison thing, isn’t it?”: Lesbian and bisexual women’s accounts of how partner relationships shape their feelings about their body and appearance. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 35 (3). pp. 415-427. ISSN 0361-6843

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0361684311410209

Abstract

Women’s feelings about their body and their appearance are an important aspect of their lives, yet little is known about the ways in which partner relationships shape these feelings. There has been some debate about whether or not same-sex relationships offer protection to non-heterosexual (lesbian and bisexual) women from potentially harmful social appearance pressures, but there has been little empirical exploration of this issue. We contribute to the debate by presenting findings from a British qualitative study based on interviews with 15 non-heterosexual women talking about their feelings about their bodies and their appearance in the context of partner relationships. These accounts were analysed using a phenomenologically oriented form of thematic analysis and seven main themes were generated. The women suggested that same-sex relationships were both positive and negative influences in shaping their feelings about their body and appearance, highlighting the complexity of this issue. However, positive descriptions of empathy toward body and appearance concerns as well as diversity within same-sex attractions suggest that same-sex relationships have the potential to encourage women to feel happier with their bodies. This analysis also suggests that the theoretical debate is too simplistic and that a synthesized explanation should be explored in future research.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:body image, lesbianism, bisexuality, physical attractiveness, appearance, interpersonal relationships, interpersonal influences
ID Code:16537
Deposited By: Dr V. Clarke
Deposited On:21 Feb 2012 09:37
Last Modified:21 Oct 2013 02:15

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