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Keywords:

  • body image;
  • ideal body size;
  • self-evaluation;
  • size concerns

Abstract

RAND, COLLEEN SW, JAQUELYN L RESNICK, ROBERTA S SELDMAN. Assessment of socially acceptable body sizes by university students.

The objective of this study was to determine if more than one body size (the ideal) is considered socially acceptable. Two hundred undergraduates rated ideal male and female sizes, all socially acceptable male and female sizes, and their own current and desired sizes. Stimuli were arrays of nine outline drawings illustrating extremely thin to very fat male and female sizes. Most students considered three of nine sizes socially acceptable. There was high consensus on the sizes considered ideal. Although nearly three-quarters of women and half of men desired to be a different size, most considered their current size socially acceptable for other people. The results clearly demonstrate the existence of a range of socially acceptable male and female body sizes. The current size of most students was within this range. Exclusive focus on ideal body size distorts understanding of both other-size and own-size evaluations.