Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Western images lead to changes in body shape in South Africa

15.04.2004


Black South African women are becoming thinner because of the influence of the West, including media-portrayed images of waif-like women in films and TV shows according to new research.

The findings come from a study between Northumbria University in the United Kingdom and the University of Zululand in rural South Africa. The study, which will be presented at the British Psychological Society conference in London today (Friday 16th April), revealed that young black women are becoming dissatisfied with their body image as a result of the social, cultural and political changes that have taken place in South Africa over recent years.

The research was a follow-up to an earlier study between the universities which revealed high levels of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes among black women in rural South Africa.



The women in the present study were asked about why they wanted to be thinner and about the factors they felt may be driving the trend for thinness in a culture which has historically favoured bigger women.

Julie Seed, Senior Lecturer in Psychology and an expert in eating disorders at Northumbria University, said: “The most common reason given was that they are following the Western ideal of ‘thinness equals beauty’ because they think that this is how men want them to look now. The common perception is that young black males prefer thin women, and because of this, the women feel they have no choice but to lose weight in order to appear attractive to the opposite sex.

“Secondly, they want to appear more modern and wear modern clothing which is only manufactured in smaller sizes. More traditional Zulu outfits are designed to fit all but there is the impression that in wearing these outfits they will appear old fashioned and “like my mother,” as one participant highlighted.

“Societal pressure is another factor. We discovered that friends, peers and even family members tease women if they are overweight. The images portrayed by the media were also highlighted, with a number of women explicitly stating that they wanted to look like the women on TV and in magazines.

“However, possibly the most intriguing factor which emerged was that of perceived empowerment. Women want to be thin because for the first time ever, they feel they can choose for themselves what size they want to be. For years, males had dictated their daughters’, wives’ and partners’ size. Weight was traditionally regarded as a symbol of prosperity and status in rural South Africa. Now, with the Westernisation of the country and the abolition of apartheid, women feel they are more empowered and they themselves have the power to choose their own size. This perception is rather at odds with their statements about wanting to be thin in order to attract men. If this is true, then it is still the males that are dictating female body shape and size – it’s just at a more covert level.”

Seventeen women from the University of Zululand, all aged around 21, took part in the study conducted by Miss Seed and colleagues Steve Olivier and Linda Allin together with Sabelo Nxumalo from Zululand University.

Andrea Trainer | alfa
Further information:
http://www.northumbria.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Party discipline for jumping genes

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>