Body image and depressive symptoms among transgender and cisgender adults: Examining a Model Integrating the Tripartite Influence Model and Objectification Theory
Studies have shown higher levels of body image concerns and depression among transgender individuals, which may result from the internalized stigma of living in a body that does not conform to the expectations of their affirmed gender. We integrated objectification theory and the tripartite influence model, which both address how internalizing gendered appearance-related expectations are linked to body image and depression, and then determined whether this integrated model varied based on participants’ gender identity. Participants included 715 cisgender women, 207 cisgender men, 186 trans men, and 71 trans women from the U.S. A multiple group analysis indicated that thin-ideal and muscular-ideal internalization were serially linked to body shame and depression through body monitoring and appearance comparison, with appearance comparison mediating the link between body monitoring and body shame. While this model was supported for each gender identity group, cisgender men had a relatively weaker relationship from thin-ideal internalization to body monitoring, and trans women had a relatively stronger inverse link from muscular-ideal internalization to body monitoring. Furthermore, the significance of the model pathways often differed based on gender identity. Overall, findings reveal the salience of gender identity in the connections between internalization, body monitoring, appearance comparison, body shame, and depression.