New Attitude: Black Women Shift Focus on Ideal Weight and Size

July 1, 2010  |  

By Khadija Allen

For women, weight is a controversial issue that gets dissected from all subjects. Doctors, medical students, and psychologists have had discussions and open dialogues on weight that not only poses potential health risks but a desire to be thin.

Many women are obsessed with weight whether they are regular gym-goers, take afternoon walks or eating the right foods. Our nature tells us that there is an undesirable appetite to be just the right size! But experts have recently proven that black women have an entirely different perceptive on weight than white women when it comes to body shape and size.

Rashanta Beldman, a doctoral student in the Department of Educational School and Counseling Psychology in University of Missouri College of Education, examined the cultural differences of body type for black women. And that a desire to be thin for black women was not particularly attractive or healthy based on their cultural heritage.

According to Medical News Today:

“Historically, the ideal for women is to be thin,” Bledman said. “However, I noticed that within certain communities, thinness was not the most desired shape for women.” Bledman surveyed 79 African-American women on body image, weight, shape and satisfaction and found that there was an nonparallel outlook between ideal and actual shape sizes of the black woman.

The study provided black women are satisfied with their bodies, but are discontent in the mid and lower torso regions. Also, she found that shape was an ideal weight in the African-American community, as most believed body shape was particularly greater than the Body Mass Index (BMI) standards. “Many women of color that I talked to wanted to look a certain way that is difficult to obtain,” Bledman said. “Within their communities, having a curvy body type is preferable to being really thing or really heavy.”

Bledman was awarded the American Psychological Associate Graduate Student Award for her research and was noted based on her creativity, innovation, and degree standards.

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