Giving permission to be fat? Examining the impact of body-based belief systems


  • Lorayne Robertson UOIT
  • Dianne Thomson UOIT


Body image might be explained as “how we picture ourselves” and, while the image may or may not be accurate, it can affect decisions about physical, social, and emotional health. Schools are seen as potential sites for universal intervention programs to promote health, self-esteem, and size acceptance, and also to discourage unhealthy eating and body-based bullying. The implementation of a body image program is contextualized by embedded cultural ideals of body perfection, which affect students and teachers and potentially affect implementation. This research uses a case study methodology and a planned behaviour analysis framework to analyze the issues that emerge in the implementation of a body image and self-esteem curriculum across six schools. The findings provide a window on the complexity of behavioural beliefs, cultural beliefs, and perceptions of efficacy impacting a body image curriculum project. The authors see potential solutions in knowledge mobilization and critical body literacy.

Author Biographies

Lorayne Robertson, UOIT

Asst. Professor

Graduate Program Director, Faculty of Education

Dianne Thomson, UOIT

Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education




How to Cite

Robertson, L., & Thomson, D. (2014). Giving permission to be fat? Examining the impact of body-based belief systems. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne De l’éducation, 37(4), 1–25. Retrieved from