Sit Big to Eat Big: The Interaction of Body Posture and Body Concern on Restrained Eating

Jill Allen, Sarah J. Gervais, Jessi L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Body image concern has long been linked with unhealthy restrained eating patterns among women, yet scant research has examined factors to disrupt this process. At the same time, feminine stereotypes prescribe that women should be small, restrict their movements, speak softly, and limit their food intake (e.g., through dieting). Here, we examined whether women's postural constriction or expansion moderated the relation between body shape concern and restrained eating, predicting that expansive postures would interrupt this robust relation. As a secondary aim, we investigated whether women spontaneously adopted constrictive postures and to what extent postures contributed to restrained eating under baseline conditions. Specifically, women's postural position (constricted, expanded, or baseline posture) was manipulated and restrained eating was measured. Results showed that at high levels of body shape concern, women sitting in expansive postures restrained their eating less compared to women in constrictive postures. Further, spontaneously expansive (vs. spontaneously constrictive) postures were associated with less restrained eating among women. Thus, postural expansion attenuated the link between body shape concern and restrained eating whereas postural constriction exacerbated the link. Implications for gender performativity and possible interventions for restrained eating are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-336
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • body image
  • body language
  • eating behavior
  • empowerment
  • objectification
  • posture
  • power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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