Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 615–630

Body image ideals of low-income African American mothers and their preadolescent daughters

  • Kristin Flynn
  • Marian Fitzgibbon

DOI: 10.1007/BF01537357

Cite this article as:
Flynn, K. & Fitzgibbon, M. J Youth Adolescence (1996) 25: 615. doi:10.1007/BF01537357


Given the high incidence of obesity and obesity-related health problems among low-income African American women, it is both timely and significant to study factors that contribute to obesity in this population. The perception of current body size (body image) and desired body size (body image ideal) has been associated with the development of anorexia and bulimia in white adolescent girls. Body images and ideals may also be related to the development of obesity among African Americans adolescent girls. This study examined the body images and ideals of 27 low-income African American mothers and their 29 preadolescent daughters. Results suggest that there is a relationship between mothers' perceptions of their daughters bodies and their daughters' body images. Preadolescent, low-income, African American girls have normal weight ideals rather than the ultrathin ideals typically found among white girls. Normal weight girls have ideals that are heavier than their body images. This population may be less motivated than those with thinner ideals to engage in behaviors that would prevent the development of obesity during adolescence. Health promotion programs for this population should acknowledge cultural body weight standards.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristin Flynn
    • 1
  • Marian Fitzgibbon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Medical SchoolUSA
  2. 2.Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Medical SchoolUSA