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Women's body image dissatisfaction and restrictive eating behaviour: a tyranny of a thin-ideal or a fear of fat?

14 October 2010

PhD ceremony: Mr. S.E. Dalley, 14.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: Women's body image dissatisfaction and restrictive eating behaviour: a tyranny of a thin-ideal or a fear of fat?

Promotor(s): prof. A.P. Buunk

Faculty: Behavioural and Social Sciences


Why do a majority of women experience body image dissatisfaction in contemporary Western society? Moreover, why do significant numbers of women frequently engage in unhealthy forms of dieting to ameliorate this dissatisfaction? The conventional wisdom appears to be that how a woman thinks, feels and behaves toward her body is always about the perceived distance from an extreme standard of thinness, usually in the form of an external media image or an internal ideal. From this perspective women’s body image dissatisfaction is seen as always resulting from being too distant from some manifestation of the “thin-ideal”. Following on from this, dieting is, therefore, always about being “thinspired” to approach, and move toward this reference standard. However, this thesis finds that under certain conditions women’s body image dissatisfaction and dieting can also be a consequence of being too close to an unattractive fat or overweight body. More importantly, the findings of this thesis indicate that a perception of being too close to a fat or overweight body standard can have a more profound impact on dieting than a perception of being too distant from a thin-ideal body standard. Thus, it may be that unhealthy forms of dieting, and indeed eating pathology, are more about a fear of fat than thinspiration!


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.40 p.m.
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