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Factors that influence body image representations of black Muslim women


  • Odoms-Young, Angela


Research on the body image perceptions of black women is limited. Although previous body image studies have explored the intersection between race and gender, the influence of religion has been neglected. Guided by a grounded theory framework, the focus of this investigation, conducted in Upstate New York, USA, was to examine the role of race and religion in the body image perceptions of 22 African-American Sunni Muslim women. Analysis of individual interviews revealed that, in contrast to using standard medical guidelines, participants' views about their bodies were largely based on positive images of an earlier body size/shape, social and family expectations and contexts, cultural norms and values, and spirituality and religious beliefs. Although the body image perceptions of black Muslim women were similar to those expressed in previous body image studies with black women, participants expressed the importance of highlighting the spiritual versus physical self by adhering to religious guidelines regarding proper dress and appearance. These findings suggest that religion, race, and gender are all important factors to be considered when conducting body image studies with black women.

Suggested Citation

  • Odoms-Young, Angela, 2008. "Factors that influence body image representations of black Muslim women," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(12), pages 2573-2584, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:66:y:2008:i:12:p:2573-2584

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    1. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1988:78:10:1326-1329_2 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Willis, Evan & Miller, Rosemary & Wyn, Johanna, 2001. "Gendered embodiment and survival for young people with cystic fibrosis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 53(9), pages 1163-1174, November.
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