Sociocultural Pressures, Internalization, and Body Esteem in Congenitally Blind, Late-Blind, and Sighted Men and Women

Sara Dell'Erba, Meike Scheller, Alexandra A. de Sousa, Michael Proulx

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Abstract

Introduction: Visual experience has a substantial effect on how individuals construct a template of their own bodies in space. Whether the absence of total or partial visual exposure in individuals of both genders allows the buffering of harmful effects has yet to be tested. This study examined the role of vision among congenitally blind and later blind subjects for the expression of body esteem and sociocultural attitudes toward appearance. Methods: Participants comprised 101 subjects, 53 sighted and 48 visually impaired men and women. For the purpose of the study, we took into consideration congenitally blind, late blind, and typically sighted individuals. The Sociocultural Attitudes toward Appearance Questionnaire-3 (SATAQ-3) and the Body-Esteem Scale Questionnaire (BESQ) were used as measures. Results: Although congenitally blind, late blind, and typically sighted individuals showed similar awareness of media content and beauty ideals, typically sighted women displayed higher pressure to conform and had higher levels of social comparison. Congenitally blind women placed less emphasis on mass media as an influential aspect of their body perception and showed reduced internalization of beauty ideals and higher levels of body esteem. Moreover, men with visual impairments considered siblings and family to be the most influential information sources for their own body perception, while showing reduced levels of athlete internalization. Discussion: In this research, it was identified that the absence of sight influences an individual's body image beyond its physical, metric representation. Susceptibility to detrimental messages linked to sociocultural standards of attractiveness is interiorized by individuals with and without visual impairments, regardless of their gender. Implications for Practitioners: Further studies on body esteem and sociocultural pressures could enable practitioners to better understand how to support individuals with visual impairments in coping with an unhealthy social environment and with feelings of unhappiness related to their appearance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Visual Impairment and Blindness
Early online date22 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Apr 2024

Keywords

  • blindness
  • body image
  • body satisfaction
  • internal representation
  • somatosensory input
  • visual feedback
  • visual impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Rehabilitation

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