A comparison of the socio-cultural influences on body size perceptions and values among European Australian and Indigenous Fijian adolescent girls
conference contributionposted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by Lauren Williams, L Ricciardelli, M McCabe, Helen Mavoa, Boyd SwinburnBoyd Swinburn
Western women are experiencing increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity despite valuing slimness as ideal and equating thinness with attractiveness and beauty. Pacific populations are also experiencing high prevalence rates of overweight and obesity. A lage body size, however, has many positive connotations among pacific populations that stem from rich cultural practices such as feasts and deliberate fattening of women. There appears to be many sociocultural factors however, such as images of the slim ideal portrayed in Western media, influencing body image concerns that are shared between the two groups. A qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews was conducted to examine and compare the sociocultural influences on body size perceptionsand values. Participants include 16 European Australian and 16 Indigenous Fijian adolescent girls aged between 15 and 17 years. Inductive thematic analysis and analytical induction were qualitativemethods employed to facilitate interpretation of the findings. Preliminary findings suggest that Fijian adolescent girls experience greater conflict than European Australian girls about the desired body size endorsed in their community. Results also suggest that Indigenous Fijian girls place less importance than Australian girls on manipulating their body to achieve a specific ideal. Specific results of this study are reviewed and recommendations for future research are discussed.