"Be"ing a Certain Way: Seeking Body Image in Canadian Health and Physical Education Curriculum Policies

By Robertson, Lorayne; Thomson, Dianne | Canadian Journal of Education, October 2012 | Go to article overview

"Be"ing a Certain Way: Seeking Body Image in Canadian Health and Physical Education Curriculum Policies


Robertson, Lorayne, Thomson, Dianne, Canadian Journal of Education


Introduction

The term body image is defined as "a person's perceptions, thoughts and feelings about his or her body" (Grogan, 2008, p.3). A person's response to his or her body image may or may not be helpful in the pursuit of overall health and well-being. For example, having a poor body image is linked with having low self-esteem, depression, and eating disorders (Hutchinson & Calland, 2011). Body dissatisfaction can also lead to the use of steroids to increase muscularity or contribute to a decision not to participate in activity (Grogan, 2008; Rice, 2007). On the other hand, having a positive body image supports healthy eating and participation in activities with more comfort (Grogan, 2008). Body dissatisfaction affects many children and adolescents; it is sufficiently prevalent to be reported as normative for girls in mid-childhood (Hutchinson & Calland, 2011) and for both boys and girls in the pre-teen years (Grogan, 2008). Research into peer influences on body image indicates that body dissatisfaction emerges "considerably earlier" than was once thought (Dohnt & Tiggeman, 2005). For these reasons, how body image is represented in curriculum policy documents and where it is presented in the K-Grade 8 continuum are significant issues. Little is known about how body image is represented across the health and physical education (HPE) curricula of Canada's provinces and territories. The purpose of this research is to determine how consistently and coherently the concept of body image is addressed in the Canadian HPE curriculum policies, including a determination of the type and frequency of body image messages that are present, and at which grades. Because body image has been linked to both physical and mental health, it is worthwhile to develop a sense of how it is currently addressed in policy.

Context

Children and adolescents offer indications that their self-esteem and self-image--and also how they view others--is related to body shape and size (Birbeck & Drummond, 2006; Cafri, van den Berg, & Thompson, 2006; Clay, Vignoles & Dittmar, 2005; Smolak, 2004). They are taking measures to control their body shape and size; some of these measures are impacting their health in ways that concern both the health sciences and education research communities. For example, research from the Hospital for Sick Children in Canada indicates a concern over the numbers of girls aged 10-14 who are dieting and at risk for eating disorders (McVey, Tweed, & Blackmore, 2004a). A British eating disorders society reports rising cases of anorexia in girls between the ages of 8 and 11 (Hutchinson & Calland, 2011). Similarly, the pursuit of muscularity in the US has led to the use of illicit steroids as a public health concern (Cafri et al, 2006). How health is defined in the curriculum becomes a significant consideration. If definitions of good health focus on being a certain size, and regulating lifestyle choices (e.g., calories in and out) then students can see body size and shape as needing work and remediation. If a curriculum policy supports the view that size and shape are determined by heredity and persons can be healthy at many different sizes, then health is presented in a more complex way. School curriculum is not neutral but is constructed on decisions that have been influenced by different ideologies and assumptions (Kincheloe, 2004). The overall assumptions about health in a HPE curriculum policy are significant factors to consider when analyzing it for body image messages.

In an earlier era, four interdependent fields were deemed responsible for health: the environment, biology/genetics, lifestyle, and health care (LaLonde,1974). In the ensuing years, however, the areas over which the individual has some control--lifestyle, and in particular, diet and exercise--are increasingly named as health influences. Today, the published indicators of Canadians' well-being are: smoking, obesity, physical activity, access to a physician, and patient satisfaction (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2012).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"Be"ing a Certain Way: Seeking Body Image in Canadian Health and Physical Education Curriculum Policies
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.