Body dissatisfaction and pursuit of thinness in black South African females: the role of men

J.A. Seed, C.P. Szabo, L.J. Allin, S. Nxumalo, S.C. Olivier

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


Previous research has shown body dissatisfaction and pursuit of thinness among contemporary black South African females to be related to the female perception that black males now prefer thinner, more Western female body types. The aim of this study was to determine whether or not this was the case.

Design & Methods
40 black, South African males, [Mean (SD) age, 22.09 (1.78) years] from the University of Zululand in Kwa-Zulu Natal completed assessments designed to elicit the current black, African male ideal for black, African female attractiveness. These data were compared with existing data from 40 black, South African females at the same university.

The male ideal for female body shape and size did not differ significantly from females’ perceptions of the male ideal and no significant difference was found to exist between the male ideal and the ideal that females were striving to achieve. Males indicated a strong preference for females to be tall and slim, with a flat stomach, narrow waist and long, slender legs. Long hair was preferred over short hair.

These data contribute further to concerns that black South African females may constitute a high-risk group for the development of eating disorders. Pursuit of thinness appears to be partly driven by current male preferences for a more Western female body type. Findings are discussed in relation to sociological and evolutionary theories. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-24
Number of pages1
JournalProceedings of The British Psychological Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


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