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J Sch Health. 1996 Mar;66(3):112-8.

Black and white adolescent females' perceptions of ideal body size.

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  • 1School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia 29208, USA.


A stratified, random sample of 344 White and Black adolescent females participated in a survey of ideal body size beliefs, which included responses to a questionnaire and a series of nine female and male body size drawings. Using SES and race as independent variables and BMI (kg/m2) as a covariate. Black females preferred a significantly heavier ideal female body size than Whites. They also perceived their parents and both male and female friends would select as ideal a significantly heavier female body size than White subjects. Black subjects' body size preferences were significantly more influenced by family members than were White subjects, who were significantly more influenced by their peer group. These findings suggest a greater social approval of increasing weight and body size for Black adolescent females, a desire for a smaller size by White adolescent females, and cultural differences in the influencing factors that help to communicate these body size preferences.

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