Looking Good and Making It Seem Easy: A Prospective Study of Effortless Perfectionism, Body Image, and BMI in Unhealthy Weight Control Behaviors Among Female Adolescents and Young Adults

Lea M. Ventura*, Edin T. Randall, Jenna B. Shapiro, Alexandra C. Kirsch, Colleen S. Conley, Amy M. Bohnert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Unhealthy weight control behaviors are a significant health concern among adolescents and emerging adults, and perfectionism plays a role in the development/maintenance of these behaviors. Effortless perfectionism, or pressure to be perfect with apparent ease, is linked to maladjustment, but its role in weight control behaviors is unexplored. Longitudinal data on effortless perfectionism, body image, body mass index (BMI), and weight control behaviors were collected in college-aged females (N = 376, mean age = 18.48, 66% Caucasian). After controlling for BMI and trait-based perfectionism, effortless perfectionism uniquely predicted weight control behaviors. Higher levels of effortless perfectionism also predicted more weight control behaviors, but only for individuals with poor body image and specifically for those who also reported lower BMI. Pressure to be perfect with apparent ease confers unique risk for unhealthy weight control behaviors among adolescents and emerging adults with low body image and BMI. Findings highlight the importance of developing interventions that target effortless perfectionism to improve health and functioning during the transition to adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-335
Number of pages9
JournalEmerging Adulthood
Volume6
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • adjustment
  • college
  • eating behavior/disorders
  • health behavior
  • health promotion
  • perfectionism
  • transitions to adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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