The effects of Sexualized Images and Stress on Body Image and Dieting: An Evolutionary Perspective

Why are so many women preoccupied with being thin? And why does this pre-occupation lead to eating disorders in certain women? Dr. Catherine Salmon is addressing these questions in her research by exploring the theory that pre-occupation for thinness and dieting could be part of an ancestral practice of exercising control over reproduction. Research has shown that females facing social or ecological conditions that are unfavourable for childbearing can sometimes delay reproduction until the situation improves. One way of doing this has been by reducing body fat to suppress ovulation. Salmon is exploring the notion that in modern society, women continuously experience cues indicating a poor environment for reproduction, such as high levels of competition between females and stressful sexual attention. Salmon hopes that learning more about these factors underlying body image and dieting will lead to more appropriate interventions for eating disorders.