Media influence and body dissatisfaction in preadolescent ballet dancers and non-physically active girls


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Abstract

Objectives:The present study analysed media influences and body dissatisfaction in preadolescent non-professional female ballet dancers and non-physically active girls.Design:Cross-sectional design.Method:Participants were 135 Italian preadolescent girls: 67 non-professional ballet dancers (M = 12.28 years) and 68 non-physically active girls (M = 12.56 years). Participants completed a questionnaire assessing body mass index (BMI), perceived media pressure to reach the societal body ideal, thin-ideal internalization, athletic internalization and body dissatisfaction.Results:No significant differences between ballet dancers and non-dancers emerged on age; however, dancers had a significantly lower BMI. Therefore, BMI was used as a covariate. No significant difference between the two groups emerged on perceived media pressure or thin-ideal internalization. Ballet dancers reported a higher level of athletic internalization and were more dissatisfied with their bodies than non-physically active girls. BMI emerged as the most important predictor of preadolescents' body dissatisfaction for both groups. Among non-dancers, perceived media pressure predicted body dissatisfaction both directly and indirectly via thin-ideal internalization. Among dancers, perceived media pressure predicted body dissatisfaction both directly and indirectly via athletic internalization but not via thin-ideal internalization.Conclusions:Media influence emerged as an important predictor of body dissatisfaction for both groups, although the internalization of an athletic body ideal was more salient for the ballet dancers. These findings are noteworthy because they offer some clues for possible intervention programs aimed at promoting healthier body images in preadolescent ballet dancers and non-dancers and extend the existing literature on ballet dancers' body dissatisfaction.Highlights:Amateur ballet dancers reported higher body dissatisfaction than non-physically active girls.Ballet dancers had higher athletic internalization than non-physically active girls.BMI emerged as the most important predictor of body dissatisfaction for both groups.Media pressure predicted dancers' body dissatisfaction via athletic internalization.Media pressure predicted non-dancers’ body dissatisfaction via thin-ideal internalization.

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