Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Rachel Farr


One’s perception of their own personal appearance, and how one is viewed by others has been previously shown to have an impact on one’s mental health. Whether it be dealing with unrealistic body expectations depicted in the media, or attempting to appear sufficiently masculine, there are a multitude of ways in which one’s appearance can cause distress. Some appearance challenges are more identity specific, such as the struggles that some transgender people experience when attempting to achieve affirming gender presentation. Although these different concerns have been addressed individually in past research, there has not been an attempt to determine how generalized appearance concerns might have an influence on one’s mental health. In the present study, I sought to examine these variety of appearance concerns through the lens of discrepancy theory. A sample of 1650 participants completed a survey asking about the gaps between their idealized presentation, their current presentation, and the presentation that others expected them to have. In addition to this, participants were given a series of measures related to their mental health, including their depressive symptoms, social anxiety, gender congruence, and overall life satisfaction. Overall, it was found that one’s experience of appearance discrepancy varied based on one’s gender identity and sexual orientation, with transgender and gender nonbinary participants generally displaying greater levels of discrepancy. In addition to this, appearance discrepancy proved to be associated with individual mental health. These findings help to shine a light on the social pressures faced by LGBTQ individuals and point to a potential new avenue to support clinicians and refine social policy.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported though funding afforded through the Psychology department at the University of Kentucky to support student's dissertation projects in 2020.