Body image and appearance management among older married dyads: factors influencing body image in the aging process
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This study examined how older married persons' body image related to their engagement in appearance management practices and the personal and relational factors influencing the formation of body image among older persons. Various appearance management practices---exercise, dieting, use of anti-aging products and techniques, daily grooming, and apparel-related behavior---were studied. Personal and relationship factors explained for influence on older persons' body image were aging-related physical changes, health, marital relationship, cognitive age, and moods. In addition, coorientation effects in the perception of attractiveness in older marital dyads were investigated;Data were collected via a mail survey of older married couples residing in three metropolitan areas in Florida. Data from 94 married couples who were 60 years and older were entered into data analysis. The average length of living with a current spouse was 43.6 years;Results indicated that men had a more positive attitude about and were more satisfied with their bodies and appearance than were women, while women engaged more in appearance management practices such as dieting, use of anti-aging products and techniques, daily grooming, and apparel shopping and expenditures than did men. Both men's and women's body image were related to their engagement in exercise, dieting, use of anti-aging products and techniques, and apparel expenditures. Among factors examined, aging-related physical changes, effect of physical changes on the self, self-assessed health, and evaluation of spouse's attractiveness, and perceived attractiveness (one's perception of the other spouse's appraisals of his or her attractiveness) were found to be significantly related to the body image of older men and women;Older husbands' self-assessment of appearance was positively correlated with wives' self-assessment of appearance. Husbands' actual evaluation of their wives' appearance affected wives' self-assessment of their own appearance (self-other agreement), and wives' actual evaluation of their husbands' appearance influenced husbands' self-assessment of their own appearance (self-other agreement). Also, husbands' evaluation of their wives' appearance corresponded to wives' evaluation of their husbands' appearance (reciprocity). These results indicated that the agreement in two spouses' self-assessment of appearance existed because the two coorientation effects (self-other agreement and reciprocity) occurred in two partners of marital dyads.