Gender role, eating disorder symptoms, and body image concern in ballet dancers

J Psychosom Res. 2006 Oct;61(4):529-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2006.04.016.


Objective: Our objective was to evaluate the relationships between gender role, eating behavior, and body image in nonprofessional female ballet dancers.

Methods: One hundred ten female ballet dancers and 59 controls were administered the Bem Sex Role Inventory, the Eating Disorder Examination (EDE), the Body Uneasiness Test (BUT), and the Beck Depression Inventory.

Results: Ballet dancers scored higher than controls in most of the items evaluating body image and eating behaviors; a high number of ballet dancers with undifferentiated gender role were also observed. In the dancers group, male-typified subjects showed higher median scores of EDE and BUT scales, while in the control group, the highest median scores of EDE and BUT scales were found in undifferentiated subjects.

Conclusion: Ballet schools' cultural pressure towards an ideal of leanness could interfere with the process of gender role acquisition. Ballet dancers appear to be overconcerned with performance; this could reinforce the internalization of several constructs that are generally considered as typically male.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bulimia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Bulimia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology
  • Dancing*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Occupations
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires