Sex Roles

, Volume 71, Issue 5, pp 197-207

First online:

Belly Dance as an Embodying Activity?: A Test of the Embodiment Model of Positive Body Image

  • Marika TiggemannAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Flinders University Email author 
  • , Emily CouttsAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Flinders University
  • , Levina ClarkAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Flinders University

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The study aimed to test Menzel and Levine’s (2011) embodiment theory of positive body image in the context of belly dance. Participants were 213 women from Adelaide, South Australia. They comprised 112 belly dancers recruited from two belly dance schools, and a sample of 101 college women who had never participated in belly dance. Participants completed questionnaire measures of positive body image, body dissatisfaction, self-objectification, and enjoyment of sexualization. It was found that belly dancers scored higher on positive body image and lower on body dissatisfaction and self-objectification than the college students. There was, however, no difference between groups in enjoyment of sexualization. Importantly, in support of the embodiment model, the effect of belly dance group on positive body image was mediated by reduced self-objectification. It was concluded that belly dance represents an embodying activity, one associated with a number of benefits for its practioners, including positive body image.


Belly dance Positive body image Embodiment Self-objectification Enjoyment of sexualization