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Science Shows Belly Dancing Improves Body Image

Update Date: Sep 08, 2014 06:16 PM EDT

Belly dancing helps boost body image in women, according to a new Australian study.

Body image is important because it is the way in which someone perceives, feels and thinks about his or her body. Because previous studies reveal that street and modern dancers were significantly more confident about their bodies than exotic dancers, researchers wanted to understand whether belly dancing, which is potentially sexually alluring, can also boost body image.

The latest study involved 112 belly dancers from two dancing schools in Adelaide, Australia, and 101 undergraduate women who have never belly danced.

Participants were asked to complete surveys in which they rated their own bodies, and how attractive their bodies were in the eyes of men.

The study showed that belly dancers felt significantly better about their bodies than college students. Belly dancers also experienced fewer self-objectifying thoughts and were less likely to care about what others might think of their bodies.

 Researchers said the latest study highlights the fact that belly dancing can help women feel more ownership of their bodies. The activity can also help women be mentally and physically present "in the moment" and to gain more self-confidence.

"Belly dancing is an activity associated with positive body image, because participants tend to focus less on their external appearance, and more on the experience and what they are able to do with their bodies," lead researcher Marika Tiggemann of Flinders University in Australia said in a news release. "It allows women a rare, safe and creative opportunity for exploring and expressing their sensual and sexual selves."

The findings are published in the journal Sex Roles

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