Positive Perceptions of Genital Appearance and Feeling Sexually Attractive: Is It a Matter of Sexual Esteem?

Natalie Amos, Marita McCabe

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The present study examined the relationship between perceptions of genital appearance and self-perceived sexual attractiveness. The study sample included men and women (aged 18–45 years, M = 23.7, SD = 4.98) who identified as heterosexual (n = 1017), gay or lesbian (n = 1225), or bisexual (n = 651). Participants responded to an online survey assessing their self-perceived sexual attractiveness, genital self-image, genital self-consciousness during sexual activity, and sexual esteem. Based on previous findings, we hypothesized a positive link between genital self-perceptions and self-perceived sexual attractiveness, with sexual esteem acting as a mediator. We tested this hypothesis using structural equation modeling. Analyses revealed a significant association between both genital self-image and genital self-consciousness and self-perceived sexual attractiveness. However, these relationships were at least partially mediated by sexual esteem, across both gender and sexual orientation. The findings suggest that, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, individuals who maintain a positive genital self-image or lack genital self-consciousness, are more likely to experience greater sexual esteem, and in turn, feel more sexually attractive. The findings have implications for the importance of genital appearance perceptions and improving individuals’ sexual esteem and self-perceived sexual attractiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1249-1258
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender
  • Genital image
  • Self-perceptions
  • Sexual attractiveness
  • Sexual orientation

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