Charter for a healthy and diverse body image : Description

Project title: Impacts of the creation of a voluntary charter against extreme thinness on professional practices in the fashion industry, on communications and media, and on the eating habits and behaviours of Quebecers: The Québec Charter for a Healthy and Diverse Body Image.

 
Project description 
 
This research project is the result of an initiative of the Government of Québec to create a voluntary charter for the fashion industry. The Charter is designed especially for communications experts who formulate public messages and for the media; its goals are to counteract extreme thinness and anorexia and to promote a healthy body image. This initiative was launched in 2009 by Christine St-Pierre, Minister of Culture, Communications and Status of Women. A committee was formed of 30 representatives from the fashion industry, the media, the health system, the government and other agencies/organizations. The committee held consultations to identify possible targets to include in the Charter (e.g. encourage the media to use fashion models who have normal rather than emaciated body types) and to mobilize various stakeholders in society to encourage voluntary adhesion to the recommendations outlined in the Charter.
 
Overall, the project aims to examine the degree to which it is possible to change sociocultural standards pertaining to body image and, as a result, to have a positive influence on the population's food-related attitudes and behaviours. 
 
Objectives
 
There are two components to this research project, designed to determine the impacts of the Québec Charter for a Healthy and Diverse Body Image: 
 
  1. To analyze a sample of images to examine body shapes promoted in the media and to verify if a change occurs from one measurement time to the other (before and after the Charter was introduced).
  2. To conduct a survey of a representative sample of Quebecers concerning their awareness of the Charter and their beliefs regarding the causes behind unhealthy body images.
 
Methodology 
 
To meet the first objective, two research officers coded the October 2009 and March 2010 editions of magazines. The research team developed a  coding guide using measurement scales identified in the literature. In addition, several inclusion criteria were identified: the images must be photographs, an image of at least one female must be in the photograph, the body must be visible from head to waist, each person in the photo must be analyzed individually, and the image of the person must measure at least 4 cm x 4 cm. 
 
To meet the second objective, a polling firm conducted a telephone survey of 1000 adult Quebecers. The questions were on knowledge of the Charter, support for it, beliefs regarding body image and eating habits, and beliefs concerning the impacts of the Charter.
 
Results
 
Analyses were performed to identify the types of images that are promoted in Canadian magazines. Moreover, the perceived impact of the Charter regarding these images was also assessed. Exploratory analyses were conducted to evaluate the state of Quebecers' knowledge of the Charter. Finally, the opinions of the main stakeholders in the fashion industry regarding the proposals made in the Charter were also analyzed.
 
Funding
 
This project was funded by Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine du Gouvernement du Québec.