Faculty Publications


Sticks and stones: The multifarious effects of body-­‐based harassment on young girls’ healthy lifestyle choices

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2011


The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of girls and boys about the effects that body-based harassment would have on girls' eating habits and engagement in physical activity. Five scenarios were read to focus groups comprised of 12- to 14-year-old students in grades 7 and 8. Each scenario represented behaviours that fall within the definition of body-based harassment. The students were asked how they thought the target of the behaviour felt when it occurred, how they would be likely to respond and why they thought the harasser engaged in the behaviour. Results corroborated previous literature that body-based harassment can have a negative effect on eating patterns of young girls and can be a contributing factor to disordered eating. Additional results suggested that body-based harassment could play a role in altering participation in physical activity and sport in two negative directions; impetus for dropping out of activity and motivation to become a pathological exerciser. These data were analysed within the theory of sexual objectification with the dynamics of gender hierarchy and power providing complementary influential perspectives.

Journal Title

Sport, Education and Society