Developing Questionnaire Items for Assessing Gender- and Body -Inclusive Body Ideals


Background: Body image research has traditionally been in the heteronormative binary-gender paradigm with an exclusive focus on thin- and muscular-body ideals. Consequently, the field is criticized for its lack of inclusivity and diversity. To incorporate gender- and body-inclusive research, a measurement that is applicable to all gender and body type is needed. Purpose: To develop measurement items that assess gender- and body-inclusive body ideals. Methods: This study consisted of three stages: 1) item generation based on literature and existing items, 2) item refinement via focus group discussion (~30 min) with four graduate students at the researchers’ institution and a subsequent thematic analysis, and 3) item face validation by two experts at the researchers’ institution. Results/findings: Two items were generated and refined based on stage 2) and 3). The main item reads, “Thinking about your ideal body, which of the following would best describe it?” Response options include: “Thin (low body fat/slender)”, “Slim-thick (slim-curvy/ hourglass figure/slim/dad bod)”, “Fat (larger all around/plus-size model figure/voluptuous-curvy/bulky/paunchy dad bod)”, ‘”Lean-muscular (toned figure)”, “Bulky-muscular (prominent muscles/ bodybuilder figure)”, “No preference”, “Do not know”, “Prefer not to answer”, and “None of the above”. Conclusions: The items developed via this work will help identify various body ideals without classifying respondents into traditional binary gender constructs or making assumptions about normalized body ideal standards. Not only can the items be used in body image research, but they may also serve as a valuable tool for predicting exercise/sports participation in relation to body image regardless of gender and body type.