Appearance and gender role norms in emerging adulthood

Detta är en avhandling från University of Gothenburg

Sammanfattning: The overall aim of the two studies included in this thesis was to investigate appearance and gender role norms among emerging adults. Study I aimed to explore young women’s perceptions of and conformity to feminine norms, using a mixed-methods approach. In the first part of Study I, the psychometric properties of the Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory 45 (CFNI-45) were evaluated in Swedish women (n = 317, mean age = 21.3 years), and the women’s degree of conformity to feminine norms was examined. In the second part of Study I, four focus groups with young women were conducted. Thematic analyses confirmed that the norms conceptualized in CFNI-45 are present in Swedish society. However, results also indicated that the norms were not considered equally important to conform to in order to be feminine, with norms related to appearance being the most salient. The aim of Study II was to examine appearance investment as a prospective predictor of young men’s endorsement and pursuit of appearance ideals. A sample of 187 young men participated at ages 21 and 24 years. Hierarchical multiple regressions revealed that appearance investment was a prospective predictor of increases in leanness orientation, internalization of appearance ideals, and muscularity-related behaviors. However, appearance investment did not predict increases in muscularity dissatisfaction. In sum, the two studies point to the conclusion that the societal flow of messages about how to look does not leave young women and men unaffected. Instead, many emerging adults engage in various strategies to achieve the gendered appearance ideals of today’s Western society.

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