What is Self-Objectification?


Self-objectification is when people view themselves as objects for use instead of as human beings.

Self-objectification is a result of objectification, and is commonly discussed in the topic of sex and gender. Both men and women struggle with self-objectification, but it is most commonly seen among women. According to Calogero, self-objectification explains the psychological process by which women internalise people’s objectification of their bodies, resulting in them constantly criticising their own bodies.

Relationship to Objectification

Objectification and self-objectification are two different topics, but are closely intertwined. Objectification looks at how society views people (in this case, women) as bodies for someone else’s pleasure. This occurs in advertisements where the body but not the face of a woman is shown. These messages put an unrealistic standard on women’s bodies, dehumanising them to an object of visual pleasure, and self-objectification occurs in response. Women start to internalise the message that they are not individual human beings, but objects of beauty, pleasure, and play for men or women, and they start to look at themselves and their bodies as such.

The perpetuation of self-objectification can be described as a cycle. Objectification causes self-objectification which perpetuates objectification, and the cycle goes on. Both media and social interaction factor into that cycle as well. Media is everywhere, plastering seemingly perfect women across billboards, in music videos, and on covers of magazines. These ideals cause people to put on an unrealistic lens, thinking that they should look and act like the women in the media are portrayed, perpetuating the cycle of self-objectification. Social interactions affect this cycle as well, as the way people communicate with each other subconsciously furthers objectification as well. This type of talk is known as appearance related communication. Two types of appearance-related communication that have had an effect on the existence of self-objectification are fat talk and old talk.

Appearance-Related Communication

Fat talk, a term coined by Mimi Nichter, refers to women making comments about their own weight, dieting, or justifications of one’s eating or exercising habits. It includes comments such as, “I’m out of shape”, or “I’m just eating everything today”. Women who engage in fat talk are more likely to struggle with body dissatisfaction, self-objectification, depression, anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders.

Old talk refers to negative statements about wrinkles, skin tone, yellowing teeth, and other physical aspects of the natural aging process. Women who engage in old talk are more likely to be dissatisfied with their bodies, engage in self-objectification, suffer from depression and anxiety, and it may even decrease their quality of life and actual lifespan. Both fat and old talk result in higher self-objectification, as women measure themselves against and attempt to reach an unrealistic standard.

In Different Generations

One period of time in a woman’s life where self-objectification happens excessively is during pregnancy. Magazines offer pictures of pregnant celebrities with golden skin, toned legs, and a perfectly rounded, “cute” pregnant belly. The photo-editing makes it seem real, and people start to think that is how they ought to look when they are pregnant. Looking at these perfect pictures results in pregnant women feeling worse about themselves and being incredibly self-conscious about their weight even though their weight gain is normal and necessary. They see themselves as not good enough, again, objectifying their identity to a body that needs to be perfect. Studies have also been done on adolescent girls, and what heightens self-objectification at an early age. With the amount of over-sexualised media that children are exposed to, young girls start to identify themselves as a “prize” to be used and given away at an early age. This objectification is fuelled heavily by media and the fact that it is highly sexualised. The more a young girl is exposed to media that sexually objectifies women, the more they will internalise those beliefs and ideals and objectify themselves.

On This Day … 02 January

People (Deaths)

  • 2016 – Frances Cress Welsing, American psychiatrist and author (b. 1935).

Frances Welsing

Frances Luella Welsing (née Cress; 18 March 1935 to 02 January 2016) was an American Afrocentrist psychiatrist and black supremacist.

Her 1970 essay, The Cress Theory of Colour-Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy), offered her interpretation on the origins of what she described as white supremacy culture.

She was the author of The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colours (1991). Welsing caused controversy after she said that homosexuality among African-Americans was a ploy by white males to decrease the black population.

Early Life

Welsing was born Frances Luella Cress in Chicago on 18 March 1935. Her father, Dr. Henry N. Cress, was a physician, and her mother, Ida Mae Griffen, was a teacher. In 1957, she earned a B.S. degree at Antioch College and in 1962 received an M.D. at Howard University. In the 1960s, Welsing moved to Washington, D.C. and worked at many hospitals, especially children’s hospitals. While Welsing was an assistant professor at Howard University she formulated her first body of work in 1969, The Cress Theory of Colour-Confrontation and self published it in 1970. The paper subsequently appeared in the May 1974 edition of the Black Scholar. This was an introduction to her thoughts that would be developed in The Isis Papers. Twenty-two years later she released The Isis Papers, a compilation of essays she had written about global and local race relations.


In 1992, Welsing published The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colours. The book is a compilation of essays that she had written over 18 years.

The name “The Isis Papers” was inspired by an ancient Egyptian goddess. Isis was the sister/wife of the most significant god Osiris. According to Welsing, all the names of the gods were significant; however, also according to Welsing, Osiris means “lord of the perfect Black”. Welsing specifically chose the name Isis for her admiration of “truth and justice” that allowed for justice to be stronger than gold and silver.

In this book she talks about the genocide of people of colour globally, along with issues black people in the United States face. According to Welsing, the genocide of people of colour is caused by white people’s inability to produce melanin. The minority status of whites has caused what she calls a preoccupation with white genetic survival.

She believed that injustice caused by racism will end when “non-white people worldwide recognize, analyze, understand and discuss openly the genocidal dynamic.” She also tackled issues such as drug use, murder, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, incarceration, and unemployment, in the black community. According to Welsing, the cause of these issues is her definition of racism (white supremacy). Black men are at the center of Welsing’s discussion because, according to her, they “have the greatest potential to cause white genetic annihilation.”


In The Isis Papers, she described white people as the genetically defective descendants of albino mutants. She wrote that due to this “defective” mutation, they may have been forcibly expelled from Africa, among other possibilities. Racism, in the views of Welsing, is a conspiracy “to ensure white genetic survival”. She attributed AIDS and addiction to crack cocaine and other substances to “chemical and biological warfare” by white people.

Welsing created a definition of racism, which is her theory of non-white genocide globally. She refers to racism and white supremacy synonymously. Her definition is “Racism (white supremacy) is the local and global power system dynamic, structured and maintained by those who classify themselves as white; whether consciously or subconsciously determined; this system consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, speech, action and emotional response, as conducted simultaneously in all areas of people activity: economics, education, entertainment, labour, law, politics, religion, sex, and war. The ultimate purpose of the system is to ensure white genetic survival and to prevent white genetic annihilation on Earth – a planet in which the overwhelming majority of people are classified as non-white, (black, brown, red, and yellow) by white skinned people. All of the non-white people are genetically dominant (in terms of skin colouration) compared to the genetic recessive white skinned people”. Welsing was against white supremacy and the emasculation of black men.


Welsing stated that the emasculation of the black man prevents procreation of black people. According to Welsing, this is one of the goals of racism (white supremacy). She calls this effeminisation as a form of oppression. An extension of feminising black men is also described by Welsing as bisexuality and homosexuality.


By 30 December, 2015, Welsing suffered two strokes and was placed in critical care at a Washington, D.C.-area hospital. She died on 02 January 2016, at the age of 80.

What is the Role of Informant Discrepancies in Mental Health in Relation to Sexuality?

Research Paper Title

Mental-health disparities between heterosexual and sexual-minority adolescents: Examining the role of informant discrepancies.


An emerging literature documents substantial mental-health disparities by sexual orientation amongst adolescents, with sexual-minority youth exhibiting poorer mental health than heterosexual youth.

This brief report provides the first empirical account of how the association between sexual-minority status and adolescent mental health differs depending on who assesses adolescents’ mental health (child/mother/father/teacher), and how informant discrepancies in assessments of adolescent mental health differ by adolescents’ sexual orientation.


Data come from an Australian national sample of 14-/15-year-old adolescents (Longitudinal Study of Australian Children; n = 3,000).

Adolescent mental health is measured using multiple measures from the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and modelled using multivariable linear regression models.


Mental-health disparities between sexual-minority and heterosexual adolescents emerged irrespective of who assessed the child’s mental health.

However, their magnitude varied substantially by informant, being largest when mental-health was reported by adolescents (~0.7 standard deviations) and smallest when reported by teachers (~0.2 standard deviations).

Discrepancies between mental-health scores collected from the child and other informants were largest for internalising than externalising behaviours, and in child-father than child-mother comparisons.


Understanding informant discrepancies and their meaning is pivotal to designing surveys that generate robust insights into the health of sexual-minority adolescents, as well as appropriate policy interventions.


Perales, F., Campbell, A. & Johnson, S. (2020) Mental-health disparities between heterosexual and sexual-minority adolescents: Examining the role of informant discrepancies. Journal of Adolescence. 79, pp.122-127. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2020.01.006. Epub 2020 Jan 15.

Book: Sexuality – A Very Short Introduction

Book Title:

Sexuality: A Very Short Introduction.

Author(s): Veronique Mottier.

Year: 2008.

Edition: First (1ed).

Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP).

Type(s): Paperback, Audiobook, and Kindle.


What shapes our sexuality? Is it a product of our genes, or of society, culture, and politics? How have concepts of sexuality and sexual norms changed over time? How have feminist theories, religion, and HIV/AIDS affected our attitudes to sex?

Focusing on the social, political, and psychological aspects of sexuality, this Very Short Introduction examines these questions and many more, exploring what shapes our sexuality, and how our attitudes to sex have in turn shaped the wider world. Revealing how our assumptions about what is ‘normal’ in sexuality have, in reality, varied widely across time and place, this book tackles the major topics and controversies that still confront us when issues of sex and sexuality are discussed: from sex education, HIV\AIDS, and eugenics, to religious doctrine, gay rights, and feminism.