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The Body Images of Black and White Women at an Urban University

By Sarah M Vincent

Abstract

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)This thesis examined the body images of Black and White women at an urban university. Self perception of body image may be positive or negative, healthy or unhealthy, and may be influenced by various factors. Qualitative interviews were completed with eight Black and eight White non-Hispanic female college students. A common theme emerged regarding images of beautiful and ideal bodies. The women held similar standards of beauty for White and Black women with one exception: White women were expected to be thinner whereas Black women were expected to be heavier. In addition, the women were of a common mind with regard to the influence of men, fashion, and relationships with female family members on their body images. Racial differences emerged when the women discussed male perceptions of female bodies. Women of both races believed that racial and ethnic minority men were more accepting of women with diverse body types than were White men. Familial influences on body image included the mother-daughter relationship and a new finding of the sister-sister relationship. Finally, an emergent and unexpected finding centered on a woman's history of sexual and physical abuse. Each of the six women who experienced sexual or physical abuse reported some level of negative body imagery. These findings are discussed in the context of the existing body image literature and recommendations are made regarding directions for future research

Topics: Body Image, Black and White Women, Mothers, Sisters, Men, Pants, Eating Disorders, Body image in women, Body image -- Social aspects, African American women -- Psychology
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:scholarworks.iupui.edu:1805/1010
Provided by: IUPUIScholarWorks

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