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: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>