Date of Award

5-23-2010

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Megan Yost

Language

English

Abstract

Research on women’s body image has focused on the sexual objectification women experience in society and their interpersonal relationships, but the concept of body image has been studied almost exclusively among heterosexual women. The present study explored how lesbian and bisexual women experience their bodies and the psychosocial factors that contribute to their body image development. I interviewed eight lesbian and six bisexual women living in South Central Pennsylvania. I employed interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) for my analysis, which aims to explore individuals’ experiences and examine how they make sense of their world. My analysis resulted in themes focusing on four main areas: how participants described their bodies in relation to their sexuality; the role that LGBT and feminist communities play in how they feel about their bodies; how they negotiate sexualization and homophobia; and how their romantic relationships with men and women affect their sense of body image and identity. I will conclude by discussing similarities and differences between bisexual and lesbian participants. This study adds to the literature on lesbian and bisexual women’s body image as both an oppressed sexual minority and sexualized women, as well as how communities of women help them deal with these stressors and accept themselves and their bodies.

Included in

Psychology Commons

COinS