Little is known about how female adolescent ballet dancers—a group at high‐risk for the development of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders—construct body ideals, and how their social identities interact with body ideals to confer risk for disordered eating. Using a novel body figure behavioral task, this study investigated (1) whether degree of body dissatisfaction corresponded to severity of disordered eating thoughts and behaviors, and (2) how ballet identity corresponded with ideal body figure size among adolescent ballet dancers.
Participants were 188 female ballet dancers ages 13‐18 years who completed self‐report measures of study constructs and the behavioral task.
Linear regression models indicated that more severe body dissatisfaction was positively associated with increased disordered eating thoughts and behaviors (
Findings from this study suggest desire to achieve smaller body sizes is correlated with more severe disordered eating endorsement and stronger ballet identity. Instructors and clinicians may consider assessing the extent to which individuals identify as a ballet dancer as a risk factor for disordered eating and encourage adolescent dancers to build and nurture other identities beyond ballet.
Eating disorders are debilitating conditions that can lead to malnutrition, social isolation, and even premature death. Though disordered eating thoughts and behaviors can affect anyone, adolescents in physically demanding and body image‐driven activities including ballet dance are particularly vulnerable. Investigating how factors like body dissatisfaction and strength of identity are associated with disordered eating among high‐risk groups is crucial for developing effective prevention and intervention methods that minimize harm.