Study Showing Belly Dancers Have Better Body Image:

Duvet

Member
Well, the researchers definitely define bellydance as being a potentially erotic and sexually alluring activity. I'm unclear as to whether the bellydancers gained a better body image because they belly danced (ie it helped them become more body conscious and comfortable), or whether they already had a good body image and so that was what attracted them to bellydancing. It is a shame they didn't take the two sample groups, compare them first, and then give the non-dancers some lessons, and then compare the two groups afterwards. I'd also want to know the demographic make up of the two groups, and the actual style of bellydance (that goes unnamed because all bellydance is the same!!) that the two schools engaged in, and wht experience the dancers had.

Those nitpicks aside, I like the conclusions;
belly dancers see their own bodies in a better light than the college students do, and are less likely to be dissatisfied with how they look. They also have fewer self-objectifying thoughts, and therefore take what others might think about their bodies less to heart. Most belly dancers enjoy this activity because it is fun, and because they get to perform interesting movements with their body.

"Belly dancing is an activity associated with positive body image, because participants tend to focus less on their external appearance, and more on the experience and what they are able to do with their bodies," concludes Tiggemann. "It allows women a rare, safe and creative opportunity for exploring and expressing their sensual and sexual selves."

But is this only at the student level? Performers I feel, due to the nature of their medium, certainly do get hung up over body image, external appearance, and judgement from others, and can focus on what they can't do with their bodies (anymore) . But then they still try to maintain the fun and interest, project a positive body image and repetitively have to explore and express their sensual and sexual selves, in not an always safe and creative environment.

So what do male belly dancers feel about their bodies? Can it just be concluded they will feel the same way because its bellydance and they are bellydancers. Or do the public stereotypes around bellydance, expressed in the article as erotic, sexually alluring and feminine sensuality, create a different sense of body image in men? Certainly they can have fun and move their bodies in interesting ways. And I'm sure men can reduce the hangups over body image and their response to others about their body, although those responses and hangups could be different given the expressed stereotypes about bellydance. Being physically and mentally present in the moment and gaining empowerment is a great gift to achieve for everyone. But does it provide men with "a rare, safe and creative opportunity for exploring and expressing their sensual and sexual selves."? I feel, as a man, that those last opportunities are very rare. Male sensuality and sexuality is often the one thing a bellydance group doesn't want to experience. The bloke has to be pretty well known by the group or by reputation before such creativity is condoned. From a male perspective, its not about providing a safe experience for the man to explore and perform, but proving that he's a safe man before he's allowed to explore and perform. That experience in itself can be damaging to his new found bellydance self empowerment, and can reaffirm those negative issues about body image and the judgement of others.
 

Tanglefoot

New member
Oh c'mon Duvet, you should know by now males don't matter in this equal society we have created.

But,


A variation of ;

"It allows women a rare, safe and creative opportunity for exploring and expressing their sensual and sexual selves."

Is the usual excuse used to deny males from learning this dance and look here scientists of whom are meant to be open minded by virtue of their very profession have just scientifically reinforced the stereotype.
 

Daimona

Moderator
I suggest you read the whole study (link posted above by Kartane), not just the abstract of it.
 
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Darshiva

Moderator
The misandry is more than a little misplaced, I think. Women have a hard time of it in society in general, so it's nice to have the occassional safe place to hang out.

As you are surely aware, there are places where men are welcome to join in in dance, and most women-only dance spaces advertise that way.
 

Tanglefoot

New member
The misandry is more than a little misplaced, I think. Women have a hard time of it in society in general, so it's nice to have the occassional safe place to hang out.

As you are surely aware, there are places where men are welcome to join in in dance, and most women-only dance spaces advertise that way.

Yeah I know I have experienced that one.... it's not nice when it happens as say you are involved with something not typical to your gender and something was going on and everyone you knew was going and getting excited and you can't share in the excitement nor can you go because you were born the wrong sex.

Women can cry equality and they have a very powerful political organisation to back them up, but males, males have nothing, even authority is biased against males.

And this article, women's body image, does anyone stop to consider male body image or even why the male suicide rate is 3.7 times higher than female. There is a lot of negativity out there aimed at males and a lot of males are feeling it, males who are brothers, sons, husbands, fathers, grand fathers and boy friends.

Sorry to get heavy, but I can't abide gender inequality and yes, I am involved with feminism, I support female equality where in return I hope females support male equality, for much that is out there is not as it used to be the old stereotypes don't apply in many cases but they are still used as a stick to bash males with.
 

Aniseteph

New member
The study was specifically about women's body image though. I expect with the way the media is these days we are heading for similar studies on men's body image, if they aren't already out there (not my field at all) but belly dance schools aren't going to give you statistical significance.

Which raises an interesting thought - what activity could you look at for male body image? Belly dance as a hobby has an interesting blend of attributes; I suppose you can get some aspects of the physicality from other dance forms, or the social side, or some aspects of the performance side... Morris is the obvious parallel to me for the social participation and performance, but it doesn't have the emphasis on the individual body and learning to move in what my teacher has called "mysterious ways", or the individual expression.

Women's bodies have been held up to unfeasible media images for a very long time now which makes the hobbyist belly dance scene so appealing - it really can be safe place to discover " hey, you know what? I'm OK and can do THIS <busts out amazing turbo shimmy or luscious undulation> and not feel it's size/age inappropriate". Now objectifying men's bodies is such a big thing maybe there is fertile ground being prepared for something similar.

I am amazed it took the advertisers so long to start picking on men in terms of appearance, but I guess in the olden days they thought guys were above feeling bad about their looks.
 

Tanglefoot

New member
What activity could a male look at for male body image, well just like female activities it depends on what body you have, where of course if you don't have what is associated with that activity, you feel you don't belong and furthermore males suffer confidence and self esteem issues just like females, we are no different in that respect, but where we are different is the holy media that educates and informs either doesn't want to know or when it does it presents the matter in a condescending manner of which actually comes across as such people are to be pitied even ridiculed for being so unmanly. But would it interest you to learn, according to current research males are more concerned and unhappy with body image than females.

And the Morris I know Morris men and their activities revolve around pubs, real ale, getting drunk and worship of past ideas of monarch and country of which is not what all males want to do, though one can't argue with their stamina, quickness of step, sense of rhythm and spatial awareness and street dance, it's a young thing pertaining to a particular music taste of which could be considered generational, but why funnel males off into other dance styles, why can't they be part of belly dance, why can't males be beautiful too, or is that unmanly and quite possibly questioning of human kinds preoccupation, that of sexuality.

And the olden days were the days that man controlled all where these days such is not the case in all respects and what also exists is feminised males who it seems relish in ridiculing their own sex as if they are trying to please that which they know holds the key to their future employment success.

But then I write what I feel from my perspective of which is despite looking male, is an intersexed perspective, where hardly anybody knows intersexed people actually exist for they are too busy judging books by their cover.
 

Tanglefoot

New member
But the research title is ;

Belly Dance as an Embodying Activity ?: A Test of the Embodiment Model of Positive Body Image

Where of course exists male belly dancers who on seeing the title go 'oh goody let's read', to quickly find their expression is not included through the usual assumptions being made by a society that seems not interested in practical gender equality.
 

Duvet

Member
I suggest you read the whole study (link posted above by Kartane), not just the abstract of it.
Thank you for merging the threads Daimona. I wasn't criticising the study. Reading the abstract alone, it was clearly a study of females, although the title "Belly Dance as an Embodying Activity" certainly wants me to be included, and I would like to feel I gain the same benefits for body image that the women in the study are suggested as getting. The study acknowledges that both men and women can feel body dissatisfaction generated by social ideals.

The full study does answer my demographic question though. The bellydancers were, as a mean, 14 years older than the undergraduates. But no indication (or did I miss it?) of what bellydance was being practised, and the study is aware that the 'body positive' bellydancers might be self selective (ie they were drawn to bellydance because they already had a positive body image).

I think a longitudinal study would be interesting, and I still wonder whether the conclusions that the study draws would morre apply to class students (who do it for fun, and only as fun), rather than dancers who concentrate on it for performance/money.
 

Daimona

Moderator
Any scientific study has its strong and weak sides.


I would like to include men as well, both in a separate study and in an inter gender study (could you say it like that?), because I believe that belly dance could be good for everyone whatever gender the dancers are.

If there are enough males engaging in recreational belly dance to get get statistically good results, I don't know why they shouldn't be included in such a study for males as well.

And speaking of statistics: I don't know what is the common numbers required in psychological studies, but from a statistically point of view, even 213 participants is on the short end to get statistically reliable results. In general scientists all over the world usually works with too small numbers.


It is mentioned that the majority of the belly dancing style practiced in Australia is Middle Eastern.
In Australia, the most common form of belly dance is Middle Eastern, with some Tribal Style elements, and classes are promoted on the basis of fun and fitness (bellydanceoz.com).
 
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Darshiva

Moderator
Thank you for merging the threads Daimona. I wasn't criticising the study. Reading the abstract alone, it was clearly a study of females, although the title "Belly Dance as an Embodying Activity" certainly wants me to be included, and I would like to feel I gain the same benefits for body image that the women in the study are suggested as getting. The study acknowledges that both men and women can feel body dissatisfaction generated by social ideals.

The full study does answer my demographic question though. The bellydancers were, as a mean, 14 years older than the undergraduates. But no indication (or did I miss it?) of what bellydance was being practised, and the study is aware that the 'body positive' bellydancers might be self selective (ie they were drawn to bellydance because they already had a positive body image).

I think a longitudinal study would be interesting, and I still wonder whether the conclusions that the study draws would morre apply to class students (who do it for fun, and only as fun), rather than dancers who concentrate on it for performance/money.
The study was done in Adelaide so the specific styles are Egyptian as well as Fat Chance-based tribal fusion. The reason why women were mentioned in the article and not men? Because the sample size of responses from men was too small. This is Australia we're talking about. I know of a total of four male bellydancers in the country and have only been approached by one male to learn bellydance in the entire time I have been teaching. Dance isn't something aussie males do. Getting upset at the lack of representation is futile. If you would like the study to be male-inclusive, conduct one yourself using the male dance contacts you have as a starting point.
 

Duvet

Member
I wasn't upset about the lack of male representation. I just wondered how the study's conclusion might, or might not, be applicable to male bellydancers. As there are no male specific studies around (for the reasons already given) then I either do this, or pretend that studies about bellydance aren't applicable to me.
 

Amulya

Moderator
The group they used was small and only from two dance schools in the same country, no, even in the same area, that would really affect the data outcome. I'd like to see a more world wide approach and professional dancers included.
Though the outcome doesn't surprise me, I have seen same thing in Holland, but only amongst students, performers and teachers generally don't talk openly about this topic, so I have no idea. For teachers there isn't really as much pressure to look a certain way, but for performers there is.
 

Aniseteph

New member
...pretend that studies about bellydance aren't applicable to me.
I don't understand what you mean. I don't feel they are applicable to me as an individual either. They may raise discussion points but they don't describe the individual's experience, they can't tell me what belly dance does for me or you or anyone else. If their sample is representative of belly dancers and college students in general then the most they can say about the individual dancer is a probability of scoring better than a random college student. And I don't give a hoot how much better my or your or anyone else's body image is likely to be than Ms College Student.

What they do do is describe populations, so it's more relevant if someone is using this politically eg to lobby for more support for belly dance classes because look here is evidence that they are a Good Thing, who knew?! In which case yes, the evidence here technically only applies to women, but only because the evidence for men is difficult because of the numbers. IMO anyone using it to push the case for women only classes would be twisting it to fit their own agenda.:naghty:
 

Kartane

New member
I have not participated in the conversation since my first posting as I am finding it nearly impossible to hold my inner snark in check. This is a study that might help a lot of people see belly dance differently, as it did the people who started it with an expectation that Belly Dance would be a 'negative' to dancers, because they had grouped it with 'exotic' dance in their minds without understanding what our art form actually is. The change in their perception alone makes this a positive and important study despite the statistical issues and age differences noted by others.

I, myself, do not find it difficult to extrapolate that positive findings among one group of participants in the activity might as easily apply to others groups. Granted, this is subjective and not backed by empirical evidence. But saying that a study about apples has no value because it does not include pears derails the vital conversation about the potential positive repercussions of the study overall.
 

Afrit

New member
Curious to know if a similar study has been done with Salsa. My experience suggests there is a dance form that would destroy any positive feelings you habour for your body!
 

Amulya

Moderator
Salsa bad for body imagine? I have only done a few salsa classes but couldn't see anything that would be bad for body imagine. I'd think ballet would be, I saw first hand how it ruined the body imagine of the sister of a friend: she hadn't been accepted into ballet academy because her legs were 'too short', it also reflected directly onto my friend, because she also had 'short legs' and didn't fit the rest of the criteria even though she didn't want to enter ballet accademy.
 
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