Body standards need to be demystified


As an expert in eating attitudes and behaviors, the Loricorps research group of the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières (UQTR) offers a reflection following an article recently published in the media about a game virtual showcasing a fitness club owner whose goal is to make his clients lose weight, accumulating points for each calorie lost.

Our team wonders about this game which encourages the internalization of the ideal of thinness, even a muscular thinness leading to artificial weight, to the culture of the diet and to only rational food.

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Following the negative impacts of COVID-19 on dietary health, all of these phenomena are fertile ground for dysfunctional eating attitudes and behaviors leading to restrictive, bulimic and emotional eating habits.

The ideal of thinness!

Concerning more specifically the ideal of thinness, studies show that little girls aged barely 5 years internalize thin and sometimes muscular bodies as body standards to be achieved. This internalization, which remains stable during adolescence and adulthood, thus increases the risk of developing a dysfunctional relationship with one’s own body and diet, but also with those of others, as in the case of grossophobia.

Through the ages

Thinness has not always been synonymous with beauty in our society. Historically, the representation of beauty has evolved over the centuries. For example, during the Renaissance, curves were an aesthetic ideal of the « well-being », illustrated among other things by The birth of Venusa work by Sandro Botticelli.

However, during the 20th century, the ideal of beauty changed. In the 1940s, Marilyn Monroe conjured up the image of the ideal hourglass-shaped body. In 1960, the model Twiggy instituted a shift in the body ideal towards a more pronounced thinness.

It was from the 1990s that the phenomenon of thinness became synonymous with beauty in our society. The internalization of the ideal of thinness largely depends on our culture strongly conveyed by the media (social and traditional).

Positive examples

In response to these worrying findings, the Loricorps transdisciplinary team wishes to highlight the distribution of the short film Reflection, from Disney, starring Bianca, a ballet dancer who brings to life a fable about body acceptance as an active ingredient in positive self-esteem. » [L’héroïne] fights against its own reflection, overcoming doubt and fear by channeling its inner strength, grace and power,” Disney wrote in a statement.

These are encouraging actions that promote a culture of body diversity for girls and boys in our society.

Sad woman or teenager girl afraid of weight looking at scale in eating disorder

Johana Monthuy-Blanc, Ph.D, full professor, head of the Loricorps research group at UQTR and researcher for the Fonds de Recherche du Québec (FRQ) at the Research Center of the University Institute in Mental Health of Montreal (CR-IUSMM)

Sad woman or teenager girl afraid of weight looking at scale in eating disorder

Giulia Corno, Ph.D. in psychology, postdoctoral student of the Loricorps research group at UQTR


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