Perceptions of Body Figure Attractiveness Among African American Male College Students

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Historically, females who had large body figures and considered overweight were seen as the epitome of beauty within the African American culture. More specifically, African American females with large body figures were perceived by African American males as smart, sexy, employable, desirable, wanted, marriatable, and rulers of their households. However, as African American males acculturate into the dominate culture via their college attendance, their perceptions of body figure attractiveness may begin to change towards perceptions that are similar to those of the dominate culture. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine African American male college students’ perceptions of body figure attractiveness. Participants in this study consisted of 227 African American male college students between 18 and 31 years of age from two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and two Traditionally White Institutions (TWIs) across the Southeast and Northeast regions of the United States. Findings from this study revealed that African American male college students’ perceptions of body figure attractiveness are changing towards those similar of the dominant culture. Thus, implications are discussed relative to the potential influence in which African American males’ perceived body figure attractiveness may have on African American females.

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Journal of African American Studies