Sex Roles

, Volume 34, Issue 5–6, pp 391–406 | Cite as

Black and white adolescent males' perceptions of ideal body size

  • Sharon H. Thompson
  • Roger G. Sargent
  • Karen A. Kemper


A stratified random sample of 496 white (n =337) and black (n =159) adolescent males participated in a survey of ideal body size beliefs. Responses to the questionnaire and a series of nine female and male body size drawings were analyzed using the General Linear Model Analysis of Variance and Categorical Modeling. Using SES and race as independent variables and BMI (kg/m2)as a covariate, black males were found to prefer a significantly heavier ideal female body size than whites (p <.0001) and also perceived that their parents, female friends, and male friends would select as ideal a significantly heavier female body size than white subjects. Black subjects were 1.9 times (O.R. = 1.88, 95% C.I. = 1.44, 2.47) more likely to select a larger ideal female hip/buttocks size and 1.7 times (O.R. = 1.72, 95% C.I. = 1.25, 2.37) more likely to choose a larger ideal female thigh size than white subjects. Our findings seem to point toward a greater approval and social acceptance of a larger body size for black females by black males.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharon H. Thompson
    • 1
  • Roger G. Sargent
    • 2
  • Karen A. Kemper
    • 3
  1. 1.Coastal Carolina UniversityUSA
  2. 2.School of Public HealthUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Clemson UniversityUSA

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