Can Attachment to God Increase Body Satisfaction in Women?

According to a new study by Kristin J. Homan of the Department of Psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, women who feel a secure attachment to God are more satisfied with their bodies than women who have weak God attachments. Healthy attachments provide feelings of self-worth and reinforce self-esteem. Feeling loved and accepted is at the core of a healthy attachment, and people who have this type of relationship with parents, loved ones, or others tend to be able to handle stressful situations better than those with less secure attachments. Although there is an abundant amount of research demonstrating the positive effects of healthy attachments, few studies have looked at how a secure God attachment affects women’s body satisfaction.

For her study, Homan enlisted 92 female college students and asked them to report their level of religiosity and God attachment. The women were then presented with a series of pictures depicting average-size models and super-thin models. After viewing the pictures, the women with highly anxious God attachments reported higher rates of body dissatisfaction than those with strong God attachments. “The most interesting finding, however, was that the harmful effect of exposure to thin models was weakened for those with a secure God attachment,” said Homan. Specifically, self-esteem and self-worth were much higher in the participants who felt loved by God than in those with little attachment to God. This is significant as the negative effects of poor body image can lead to food and eating problems such as bulimia and anorexia and can increase overall psychological distress.

Homan believes that the results of this study demonstrate that a secure attachment to God, similar to other secure attachments, can help protect women from the negative consequences of body dissatisfaction. Additionally, the benefits of secure attachments can extend to other stressful life events and help women cope with challenges in positive ways. The results of this study highlight the need for more research in the area of religiosity and emotional regulation and provide further support for the protective factors of healthy and strong attachments.

Homan, K. J. (2012). Attachment to God mitigates negative effect of media exposure on women’s body image. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029230

Related articles:
Your Body and Defining Self
Patterns of Attachment in Adults
If Food Is Love, How Do I Love Myself?

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  • BethAnn


    July 27th, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    What a wonderful thing to know, that the closer that we are to God or that spiritual being in whom we trust, leads us to overall feel much more satisfied with our lives.
    Yes it makes us happier and more content with our bodies, but I believe that it is even more than this and helps us feel more content with life as a whole. When you know that there is that higher power looking out for you and this is the power to whom you can turn when life gets you down then this can be very comforting to most of us.
    I know that organized religion is not for everyone, and I don’t think that it always has to be about that. But getting in touch with your spiritual side can be such a blessing and help you to feel happier and content with life in general.

  • Michaela


    July 27th, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    What about the women who are atheist or agnostic but otherwise have a lot of love and support in their lives?

    Just because you are not a believer does not mean that you will have an unhealthy self esteem or be holistically unhappy with themselves.

    For many it is not this sort of spiritual belief that sustains them. They find this sustenance in themselves, their families and their children, their careers and extracurriculars and do not need this belief in something unseen to prop them up.



    July 27th, 2012 at 10:06 PM

    When you stand alone and have no self confidence then you will be awed by others and things you see. But when you stand firm and are confident with yourself then a lazer-thin model is not gonna make you jealous!

  • brent


    July 28th, 2012 at 4:35 AM

    It’s not only the satisfaction that you feel in yourself. It is the further development of relationships outside of yourself that you develop when you are in a church home that allows you to know that other members are your family too. You not only have the comfort of knowing God, but you also have the love and support of a great many other people who also know that God loves all of you too. It is this wonderful entanglement of people from all over the world who hold the same basic beliefs that you hold dear and who will give you comfort and support here on Earth. When you are comfortable in your spirituality and know that you have made things right with God then it is a lot easier to know that you are right with yourself too.

  • Grayson


    July 29th, 2012 at 4:15 AM

    Is this found to be true even in non-Christian nations? If there is indeed a spiritual connection with a Higher Power, like BUddhism or Islam for example, do these women have the same levels of body satisfaction if there connection with their God is strong?

  • Alister.B


    July 31st, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    I think a spiritual connection, as I feel it in myself, just gives you that little bit of confidence in self and a higher power and helps you tide over cosmetic things like body image and other things. First of all this body image craze is encouraged and sustained in insecure individuals and those with a strong spiritual connection are hardly ever insecure.

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