Although it has already been demonstrated that internalization of the thin ideal may play a role in the development of girls’ concerns about eating, weight, and shape, research is needed to fully understand this vulnerability. The present study aims to investigate whether insecure attachment dimensions towards mother and father moderate the association between internalization of the thin ideal and eating related concerns in girls.
Self-report questionnaires on attachment anxiety and avoidance towards mother and father, thin ideal internalization, and eating related concerns (concerns about eating, weight and shape) were administered to a community-based sample of 167 girls (11–18 years).
After controlling for age and adjusted body mass index, a significant interaction was found between attachment anxiety towards mother and thin ideal internalization for explaining girls’ eating related concerns (B = 0.12, SE = 0.05, p = 0.02). Also, a significant interaction between attachment avoidance towards mother (B = 0.13, SE = 0.05, p = 0.007), as well as between attachment avoidance towards father and thin ideal internalization was found for explaining girls’ eating related concerns (B = 0.11, SE = 0.05, p = 0.02).
Attachment anxiety (towards mother) and attachment avoidance (towards both parents) play a moderating role in explaining the relationship between internalization of the thin ideal and pathological eating attitudes in female adolescents. Longitudinal and experimental studies are needed to further unravel the role of insecure attachment as a vulnerability for eating pathology in youth.