Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Public Administration


This study investigated satisfaction with body image and its relationship to self-esteem of 436 midwestern women. The sample sought rural and urban women outside a university setting in an effort to include as wide a range of ages (18-81) and diversity in background as possible. The Index of Self-Esteem was used to measure self-esteem and the Body-Self Relations Questionnaire to measure satisfaction with body image. Age, education, occupation and membership in six subgroups (suburban church women, members of a feminist social service collective, rural women, an aerobics class, women in a low income scholarship program, and mothers of suburban elementary school students) were explored as possible factors in both satisfaction with body image and self-esteem. The findings revealed midwestern women appeared to be less satisfied with their body image than women nationally. However, they also seemed to be less concerned about their body image and reported dieting less than those in previous studies. The study confirmed the hypothesis that satisfaction with body image did positively predict self-esteem. While age did not predict satisfaction with body image or self-esteem, when placed in two categories, scores for those over age 50 indicated higher self-esteem than those 49 years old and under. Education did positively predict satisfaction with body image and self-esteem. Women in professional occupations had higher satisfaction with body image but did not differ significantly in self-esteem. Women in a feminist social service subgroup had significantly higher self-esteem and satisfaction with body image than women from several of the other subgroups. A model developed by Belenky, et al. (1988), combined with the Internal Control Index and the Self-Consciousness Scale were used to discern the influence of external authority upon satisfaction with body image. The study found women did differ significantly on satisfaction with body image depending upon their epistemological position in the ways of knowing model.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Social Work and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Social Work University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Barbara Veach Weitz April, 1991