Although cultural factors have an important impact on individuals' experiences of living in their bodies, to date no studies have examined cross-cultural or gender differences in individuals' experience of embodiment. This study compared Swedish and Canadian women's experience of embodiment (and other body image related constructs), as well as Swedish men and women's experience of embodiment. Associations between embodiment, body esteem, and life satisfaction in men and women were also examined. Participants were 302 Swedish women, 242 Swedish men, and 216 Canadian women. Results showed that Swedish women had overall more positive experience of embodiment, more positive body esteem, lower thin-ideal internalization and lower levels of disordered eating than Canadian women. In comparison to Swedish men, however, Swedish women had more negative experience of embodiment in some ways, but similar experience of embodiment in other ways. Although associations between embodiment, body esteem, and life satisfaction were strong, embodiment was a better predictor of life satisfaction than body esteem for both men and women. Results are interpreted through the lens of the developmental theory of embodiment and consider cultural differences between Sweden and Canada, as well as Swedish society's both progress and problems in promoting gender equity.
We examined whether internalization of sociocultural body ideals mediated the relationship between conformity to masculine norms and drive for muscularity, leanness, and thinness in a sample of males from Sweden, US, UK, and Australia. Over six hundred young men [n=142 (Sweden); n=192 (US); n=141 (UK); n=160 (Australia)] completed an online survey that included assessments of masculine role norms, body image, and internalization of sociocultural body ideals. Path analyses confirmed internalization as a mediator between greater conformity to masculine norms and body image measures (drive for thinness, desire for leanness, and desire for muscularity) across the sample. However, significant cross-country differences in the strength of these mediation effects were found. Mediation effects among US, Australian, and Swedish males were comparable, whereas these effects were weaker in the UK sample. Findings confirmed the importance of internalization of sociocultural body ideals in the tested models.
The aim of this qualitative study was to examine young female sport participants' experiences and thoughts in terms of sport, their bodies, and social appearance norms. Six focus groups with female sport participants (N=25) from Sweden were conducted. Participants raised many positive experiences in relation to their sport participation, but they also witnessed a conflict in the intersection between the culture within their sport (emphasizing physical performance) and the culture outside their sport (emphasizing physical appearance). Through thematic analysis, four themes illustrating the balancing act between these two cultures were formed: (a) the performing body versus the objectified body, (b) food as fuel versus source of shame, (c) appreciation of body type diversity versus appearance prejudice, and (d) empowerment and agency versus disempowerment and restraints. The findings of this study indicate that young women who engage in sport have to face complex, ambiguous, and restricting norms and notions.
The relatively high gender equality in the Swedish society is likely to exert an influence on gender role construction. Hence, the present research aimed to investigate Swedish women's perceptions of and conformity to feminine norms. A mixed methods approach with two studies was used. In Study 1, young Swedish women's gender role conformity, as measured by the Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory 45 (CFNI-45), was compared to the results from previously published studies in Canada, the United States, and Slovakia. Overall, Swedish women displayed less conformity than their foreign counterparts, with the largest difference on the subscale Sexual fidelity. In Study 2, focus group interviews with young Swedish women added a more complex picture of feminine norms in the Swedish society. For instance the results indicated that Swedish women, while living in a society with a strong gender equality discourse, are torn between the perceived need to invest in their appearances and the risk of being viewed as non-equal when doing so. In sum, despite the fact that traditional gender roles are less pronounced in Sweden, gender role conformity is still a pressing issue. Since attending to the potential roles of feminine norms in women's lives previously has been proposed to be useful in counseling and therapeutic work, the present research also offers valuable information for both researchers and practitioners. [Correction added on 5 May 2017, after first online publication in April 2017: An incorrect Abstract was inadvertently captured in the published article and has been corrected in this current version.].