Exploring body image, strength of faith, and media exposure among three denominations of Jewish women

Shulamit Geller, Jonathan Handelzalts, Rita Gelfat, Shirli Arbel, Yael Sidi, Sigal Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Body image dissatisfaction has been associated with harmful effects on the psychological well-being of women in western societies. Religion has been suggested to be a protective factor against body image dissatisfaction, though its precise mechanisms are not fully understood. Thus, the present study investigated the relationship between religious denominations and body image, both positive and negative. Further, it examined strength of religious faith, media exposure, and modesty, as possible mediating factors underlying this relationship. Participants were 483 Jewish women belonging to ultra-Orthodox, modern-Orthodox, or to a secular population. All factors were measured by self-report questionnaires. Findings revealed that compared to secular Jewish women, ultra-Orthodox Jewish women maintain more positive attitudes regarding their bodies, and suffer less from body image dissatisfaction. Importantly, positive and negative body image had unique effects: Positive body image differed between the Ultra-Orthodox group and the other two groups, and this relationship was fully mediated both by media exposure and by strength of religious faith. For negative body image, secular women differed from the two other groups, and this relationship was fully mediated only by media exposure. These findings are discussed in light of sociocultural influences, and related clinical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1774-1784
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Body image
  • Judaism
  • Media exposure
  • Strength of religious faith
  • Women


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