Studies on Body Image, Eating, and Weight in Models, Dancers, and Aesthetic Athletes

  • Rita FranciscoEmail author


Fashion models, dancers, and aesthetic athletes are considered high-risk groups for the development of body image concerns and eating disorders. In all these aesthetic activities, physical appearance is seen as fundamental and lean bodies are required. Therefore, these contexts are considered subcultures in which social pressures to be thin are reinforced.

Even for the least investigated group among the aesthetic activities, fashion models, the few existing studies indicate that they present higher levels of disordered eating but also higher levels of body satisfaction and self-esteem than control groups. Professional ballet dancers are considered at greater risk than recreational dancers since the rule “thinness = success” seems to be implicitly and explicitly transmitted by many different means (especially critical comments by teachers and peers about eating, weight, and shape). Among aesthetic athletes (e.g., gymnasts, synchronized swimmers, figure skaters), the desire to be leaner to improve sports performance seems to mediate the relationship between social pressure from the sports environment and disordered eating. This desire is especially related to sports-related body dissatisfaction (higher than general body dissatisfaction), which is considered a strong predictor of disordered eating for these athletes.

In this chapter, we review different studies of these specific groups to gain a better understanding of how fashion models, dancers, and aesthetic athletes address their eating and body image and to identify the specific factors associated with the development of body image concerns and eating disorders.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Católica Research Centre for Psychological, Family and Social Wellbeing (CRC-W), School of Human Sciences, Universidade Católica PortuguesaLisboaPortugal

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