Get your own mirror : investigating how strict eating disordered women are in judging the bodies of other eating disordered women

J. Alleva*, A. Jansen, C. Martijn, J. Schepers, C. Nederkoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Previous research has shown that eating disordered women lack a self-serving body image bias and largely make self-defeating social comparisons. These factors influence how eating disordered women feel about their bodies, and may also influence treatment for disordered eating. In group mirror exposure therapy, women inevitably compare their own bodies to other women's bodies. Yet, how eating disordered women view their own bodies in relation to other women's bodies has never been investigated. This study investigated how subjects high in eating disorder symptoms ("high symptomatics") view the bodies of other women and of other high symptomatics specifically. Twelve high symptomatics and 13 low symptomatics viewed photos of, and rated the attractiveness of, their own and other participants' bodies. The results show that low symptomatics rated both other women's bodies and other low symptomatic bodies specifically as less attractive, but not as fatter, than their own bodies. In contrast, high symptomatics rated both other women's bodies and other high symptomatic bodies specifically as equally (un)attractive, but as thinner than their own bodies. These results suggest that high symptomatics lack a self-serving body image bias when it comes to aspects of weight specifically. Considering weight is a self-relevant dimension to eating disordered women, the impact of these self-defeating comparisons may be especially negative and may impede treatment progress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-104
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013


  • Body image
  • Eating disorders
  • Mirror exposure
  • SELF
  • BIAS

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