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Do Polynesians still believe that big is beautiful? Comparison of body size perceptions and preferences of Cook Islands, Maori and Australians

Version 2 2024-06-13, 10:48
Version 1 2017-07-26, 11:39
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-13, 10:48 authored by PL Craig, BA Swinburn, T Matenga-Smith, H Matangi, G Vaughn
AIMS: To examine body size perceptions in a group of Polynesians from the Cook Islands and compare these with perceptions of Australians of European decent. METHODS: Residents of Tutakimoa village on the island of Rarotonga, Cook Islands completed a questionnaire on body size perception (83 females, 49 males, 80% response rate). The responses were compared with the same number of Australian subjects who were matched for sex, age and body mass index (BMI). Culturally appropriate, graded sets of photographs (one female and one male for each ethnic group) were used as the stimuli for questions on body perception. RESULTS: Cook Islands women were the most accurate in their perception of their current size; other groups overestimated. All groups preferred to be smaller, particularly women, with similar preferences (BMI 23-24) in women of both ethnic groups. Cook Islands subjects chose larger ideal sizes than Australians for both females (BMI 24.4 vs 22.5) and males (BMI 27 vs 24.2). CONCLUSIONS: The traditional Polynesian concepts of very large body sizes being considered healthy and attractive are not evident in the modern day Cook Islanders. The excessive pursuit of western fashions for small female body size may have longer term detrimental effects in Polynesian women.

History

Journal

New Zealand medical journal

Volume

109

Pagination

200-203

Location

Wellington, New Zealand

ISSN

0028-8446

eISSN

1175-8716

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

1996, New Zealand Medical Association

Issue

1023

Publisher

New Zealand Medical Association

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