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appearance related teasing;body dysmorphic disorder;body image;bullying;emerging adulthood;muscle dysmorphia


Michael Boroughs



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Beliefs about body image that are shaped in childhood and adolescence often continue into emerging adulthood, a developmental period encompassing ages 17-29 years. Bullying is “behaviour intended to inflict injury or discomfort upon another individual.” Appearance related teasing is a form of bullying where individuals are victimized based on an aspect of their appearance. Those who experienced childhood or adolescent bullying with appearance related teasing have been found to be at a higher risk of expressing extreme body image disturbances up to and including clinical disorders such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). With the introduction of the Muscle Dysmorphia (MD) specifier into the BDD diagnostic category in the DSM-5, there is also a need for more research into understanding how experiences of bullying are associated with MD. The current study explored the relationship between childhood or adolescent bullying, appearance related teasing and body image disturbance up to and including BDD and MD among a sample of emerging adults. Participants who experienced both underweight and overweight appearance related teasing had increased body image disturbance demonstrated by the presence of BDD and MD symptoms. Additionally, both men and women were more likely to exhibit MD symptoms after being teased for being underweight. These results contribute to the growing body of literature on bullying and body image and contribute to our understanding of MD by further linking the presence of MD symptoms among those with a history of being bullied. Further, the results of this study can be used to inform clinical interventions for those experiencing body image disturbance following a history of being bullied related to an aspect of their appearance.

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