Risk and resiliency factors related to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating: The identity disruption model

Lenny R. Vartanian, Lydia E. Hayward, Joshua M. Smyth, Susan J. Paxton, Stephen W. Touyz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Objective: The current study examined a theoretical model (the identity disruption model) linking negative early life experiences to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating via self-concept clarity and sociocultural factors (internalization of beauty ideals and appearance comparison tendencies). Method: 1,023 participants (52% women) completed a series of questionnaires online, including measures of negative early life experiences and childhood abuse, self-concept clarity, internalization of beauty ideals, appearance comparison tendencies, sociocultural pressure to improve one's appearance, body dissatisfaction, and disordered eating. Results: Structural equation modeling indicated that self-reported early adversity was associated with lower self-concept clarity, which in turn was associated with greater internalization of beauty ideals and more frequent appearance comparisons. Internalization and appearance comparisons were associated with body image concerns, which in turn were associated with disordered eating and exercise behaviors. There were few sex differences in these paths. Discussion: These findings provide initial conceptual support for the identity disruption model and extend previous models of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating to include processes that occur earlier in life. This model opens up the possibility for new interventions that are targeted toward those who are most vulnerable to developing body dissatisfaction and disordered eating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-330
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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