Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Health Science

Department or Program Chair

Brett Bayles, PhD, MPH and Patti Culross, MD, MPH

First Reader

Michaela George, PhD, MPH


Athletes are required to maintain a healthy and strong physique, however they can experience pressure to look a specific way. Certain types of sports promote a thin body image which athletes are insisted to follow. As a result of this, there is a trend often seen in female athletes and body dissatisfaction because of the sociocultural and sports community pressure. Body dissatisfaction is the negative subjective evaluation of the weight and shape of one’s own body. The level of body dissatisfaction a female athlete can experience varies among the type of sport they participate in. Studies show that female athletes that are in sports such as dancing or gymnastics reported high levels of body dissatisfaction compared to athletes in ball sports like basketball or soccer.

There is a parallel among female athletes and dancers with body dissatisfaction. Similarly to athletes, different types of dance have specific physical appearance aesthetics that dancers have to follow as well. In the college and professional ballet dance community, the emphasis to be thin is a highlighted aesthetic. Despite the need to have a small figure, however, female ballet dancers are expected to have extreme muscle strength too. Therefore, because they are already pressured to look a specific way in the dance community as well as having to deal with fitting in society as a female, all of this can affect their self-esteem. Low self-esteem can have an effect on a dancer’s body dissatisfaction, but there are other factors that can increase this dissatisfaction.This study aims to find ways to decrease body dissatisfaction in ballet dancers with the use of coping mechanisms that help maintain a positive self-esteem.