‘Let the ladies know’: queer women’s perceptions of how gender and sexual orientation shape their eating and weight concerns

Melissa Simone, Autumn J. Askew, Ariel L. Beccia, Claire E. Cusack, Emily M. Pisetsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This exploratory study aimed to describe the lived experiences of queer women affected by eating and weight-related concerns. Qualitative data from young queer women (n = 105; Age = 23.6 ± 3.4 years) with eating and weight-related concerns in response to open-ended questions related to the influence of gender identity and body image on weight concern, behaviours, and perception were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Nine themes were created to describe participants’ experiences: (1) compensation for other internalised stigma, (2) to suppress body parts that can be gendered or sexualised, (3) comparisons to romantic partners’ bodies, (4) media representations, (5) queer signalling, (6) queerness as protective, (7) gender expression and dysphoria, (8) societal expectations of women’s bodies, and (9) internalisation of body/beauty ideals. Seven sub-themes were created to represent beauty ideals for specific subcultural communities (e.g. femme, butch). Findings suggest that queer women attribute individual, interpersonal and social factors to weight concerns, behaviours and perceptions. Findings highlight how complex tensions between the beauty/body ideals experienced in cisheteronormative and queer spaces influence eating and weight concerns among queer women. Gender, sexual orientation and subcultural ideals intersect in important ways, and may be useful to consider when screening, treating and preventing eating and weight concerns among queer women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-125
Number of pages18
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Body image ideals
  • disordered eating
  • lived experiences
  • queer women
  • weight concern

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