Self-Esteem and Body Image Perception in a Sample of University Students

Cristiana POP
Prof. Dr., Bucharest Economic Studies Academy.
DOI: 10.14689/ejer.2016.64.2


Problem Statement: This cross-sectional study was conducted to determine the relationship established between self-esteem and body image dissatisfaction, as subjective variables among young, female Romanian university students.

Purpose of Study: We hypothesize that young women’s body dissatisfaction is related to their self-esteem level. The second purpose of this study is to verify whether self-esteem level and body size acceptance, which are subjective variables, are significantly correlated with BMI as an objective variable. Subsequently, we intend to estimate which range self-esteem in our research group is determined by self-perception of the body and what role BMI plays in this equation.

Methods: The data were collected using measurements and questionnaires from a random sample of 160 female students (19-21 y.o.) assumed to be healthy and educated, with constant physical activity and having an urban lifestyle. Using descriptive statistics for each variable, we analyzed summaries of the sample and the collected data. For pares of variables we calculated the Pearson correlation coefficient (r), and we tested its statistical significance using the “t” test.

Findings and Results: The BMI mean value – 20.93 kg/cm2 (SD = 3.30) is equivalent to a slander figure, corresponding to an average height of 1.65 m (SD = 0.06) and an average weight of ~ 57 kg (56.99 kg; SD = 9.70). A prevalence of body dissatisfaction was reported, with 79% of girls reporting being unpleased with their physical appearance. Self-esteem and body dissatisfaction were in a significant negative correlation: r (158) = – 0.36, p< .0005. We found a consistent, statistically significant correlation between BMI and body dissatisfaction (r (158) = 0.56, p< .0005). An important part (31%) of body dissatisfaction is determined by BMI and subsequently by weight and fat deposits.

Conclusions and Recommendations: Due the statistical correlations calculated for self-esteem, body image dissatisfaction and BMI, we can conclude that selfesteem is better correlated with other subjective parameters (body image) than with objective and relatively stable measurements (BMI in our research). BMI values are useful predictors of body dissatisfaction risk among young females. Physical activity results in certain improvements in the physical and psychological parameters researched in the present paper. Therefore, we made some recommendations regarding motivation, exercise enjoyment and communication techniques aimed at promoting physical activities among young women.

Key words: Weight, body dissatisfaction, cultural patterns, physical activity, self-image distortion.