Body Image in African American Women

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Body Image in African American Women Body image is an important facet in understanding the phenomenon of eating disorders. Body image concerns are important in the etiology and treatment of eating disorders and obesity (Smith, Thompson, Raczynski, and Hilner, 1997; Thompson, 1997). The construct of body image reflects the level of satisfaction one feels regarding his or her body. Body image is a multidimensional construct. It involves race, socioeconomic status, age, as well as, perceptual and attitudinal components. For this reason, research has been done to dispel the myth that all women have a negative body image. Rather, as has been shown, there are definite differences in the perception of body image and self-concept, especially across racial lines. The claims of most studies suggest that African-American women generally have a greater tolerance or acceptability for higher body weight. In addition, African-American women are also thought to place less importance on body size in the scheme of their overall body image, and there are more likely to be satisfied if they are at a higher body weight, and still regard themselves as attractive. Research not only confirms these statements, but also draws attention to other important, culturally- relevant factors, such as age in relation to other cultural forces such as, different attitudes and behaviors that shape the body images of African-American women. Finally, since research shows that body image is an important aspect in the etiology of eating disorders and obesity, its influence and the cultural forces and components behind it should be taken into account in treatment and for future research. According to Altabe’s (1996) study, there are differences in body image th... ... middle of paper ... ...en’s desire to be thin. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 17, 191-5. 7. Smith, DE, Thompson, JK, Raczynski, JM, Hilner, JE. (1999). Body image among men and women in a biracial cohort: the CARDIA study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 25, 71-82. 8. Stevens, J., Kumanyika, SK, & Keil, JE. Attitudes toward body size and dieting: Differences between elderly black and white women. American Journal of Public Health, 84, 1322-5. 9. Striegel-Moore, RH., Schreiber, GB., Pike, KM., Wilfley, DE.,& Rodin J. (1995). Drive for thinness in black and white preadolescent girls. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 18, 59-69. 10. Williamson, L. (1998). Eating disorders and the cultural forces behind the drive for thinness: Are African-American women really protected. Social Work in Health Care, 28, 61-73.

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