Title

Black Girls' Perceptions of Health and Ideal Body Types

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Department

Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Services

Abstract

This study employs an opportunity sample of 18 Black girls attending after school programmes in a Mid-western US town. The girls were asked to describe health and the ideal body type for girls of their age. Previous research has noted important cultural differences in how girls define both health and their ideal body type, indicating that Black girls in this community may have differing views than other cultural groups. The purpose of this study was to better understand the connections between how Black girls define health, various body types and the ways in which they rationalise their healthy behaviours. According to the girls in this study, health is defined as exercising and eating fruits and vegetables. In addition, the girls mentioned idealising a body type that they referred to as ‘thick’ which is typically larger than Western White ideals. The girls mentioned various sociocultural factors and practices, such as peers and mothers who influence their definitions of the ideal body type. These social influences also impact their social construction of what it means to be healthy. This information can be used to gain an improved understanding of Black girls' perceptions of health and body types to empower them and to expand our understanding and encouragement of various health practices.

Publication Title

Journal of Gender Studies

DOI

10.1080/09589236.2013.856750

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