The relationship between womens’ body image and their friendships with homosexual men

In a new article published here in the journal Body Image by Bartlett et. al. reports that:

Women who associate with gay men are often portrayed as physically unattractive and lacking in both self-confidence and attention from straight men. However, many women report enhanced self-esteem and feelings of attractiveness as a result of attention from their gay friends. It is well established that body esteem can be negatively impacted by certain peer processes, yet there is a dearth of quantitative research on positive peer influences on women’s body esteem. We tested two hypotheses: (a) women with gay male friends have poor body esteem and are rejected by heterosexual men, and (b) more contact with gay men is positively related to body esteem. Participants were 154 heterosexual women, who completed measures of their friendships with gay men, straight men and women, body esteem, relationship involvement and break-ups. Results supported the hypothesis that women’s body esteem, specifically feelings of sexual attractiveness, is positively associated with friendships with gay men.

Jesse Bering of Scientific American offers some commentary on this study here.

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