Weight Location Moderates Weight-Based Self-Devaluation and Perceived Social Devaluation in Women
Overweight and obese (“heavyweight”) people devalue themselves because, it has been proposed, they are socially devalued. However, for women, social valuation depends not only on how much weight they carry but also on where on their bodies they carry it. Here, we investigated whether weight-based self-valuation and perceived social valuation similarly depend on body shape. Study 1, using a nationally representative sample from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES; N = 1,093 reproductive-aged women), showed that, controlling for body fat, weight labeling (by self and others) and wanting to lose weight depended on body shape. Study 2, in a direct test of predictions using an undergraduate sample of women (N = 215), showed that with increased body fat, women with an abdominal weight distribution reported more self-devaluation (e.g., lower self-esteem) and perceived social devaluation (e.g., higher perceived weight discrimination); women with a gluteofemoral weight distribution, however, were shielded—partially or fully—from these adverse effects of increased body fat.