Is social engagement linked to body image and depression among aging women?

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© 2017 Taylor & Francis. Maintaining an active and engaged social life is a critical component of aging well, and women are generally more socially active than men. However, as women age their self-perceptions of their bodies may reduce social behaviors and consequently, increase depressive symptoms. Because little is known about how body image is associated with social engagement and depressive symptoms among aging women, four aspects of body image: satisfaction with cosmetic features, body function, physical appearance, and weight were assessed among women aged 65 and older (n = 123). Regression analyses indicated that cosmetic appearance, body function, and physical appearance were associated with depressive symptoms, whereas satisfaction with weight was unrelated. Further, both greater satisfaction with cosmetic features and body function were associated with higher levels of social engagement, and social engagement mediated the association between these aspects of body satisfaction and depressive symptoms. The findings indicate that specific age-relevant aspects of body satisfaction are linked to social behavior and depression among aging women, and reduced body satisfaction may lead to lower social engagement, and consequently aging women’s health and well-being may be diminished.

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