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Black America, Body Beautiful: How the African American Image is Changing Fashion, Fitness, and Other Industries
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Black America, Body Beautiful: How the African American Image is Changing Fashion, Fitness, and Other Industries

by Eric J. Bailey, Cynthia Warrick (Foreword by)
 

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Despite all the medical and media attention focused on the rate of overweight and obesity in the African American population, African American images and body types are greatly influencing changes in the fashion, fitness, advertising, television and movie industries. This is because overweight, like beauty, can be in the eye of the beholder. Most research studies

Overview

Despite all the medical and media attention focused on the rate of overweight and obesity in the African American population, African American images and body types are greatly influencing changes in the fashion, fitness, advertising, television and movie industries. This is because overweight, like beauty, can be in the eye of the beholder. Most research studies investigating attitudes about body image and body type among African Americans have shown they are more satisfied with their bodies than are their white counterparts and that there appears to be a wider range of acceptable body shapes and weights, and a more flexible standard of attractiveness, among black Americans as compared to whites. That fact is not being lost on leaders of industries that might profit from understanding this wider range of beauty, as well as playing to it. In this book, medical anthropologist Eric Bailey introduces and explains the self-acceptance and body image satisfaction of African Americans, and traces how that has spurred changes in industry. His book fills the void of scientific evidence to enhance the understanding of African Americans' perceptions related to body image and beauty—and is the first to document these issues from the perspective of an African American male.

Despite all the medical and media attention focused on the rate of overweight and obesity in the African American population, African American images and body types are greatly influencing changes in the fashion, fitness, advertising, television, and movie industries. This is because overweight, like beauty, can be in the eye of the beholder. Most research studies investigating attitudes about body image and body type among African Americans have shown they are more satisfied with their bodies than are their white counterparts. Most black women, for example, are of course concerned with how they look, but do not judge themselves in terms of their weight and do not believe they are valued mostly on the basis of their bodies. Black teen girls most often say being thick and curvaceous with large hips and ample thighs is seen as the most desirable body shape. Thus, there appears to be a wider range of acceptable body shapes and weights, and a more flexible standard of attractiveness, among black Americans as compared to whites. That fact is not lost on leaders of industries that might profit from understanding this wider range of beauty, as well as playing to it.

Voluptuous supermodel Tyra Banks is just one African American who's broken the mold in that industry. The effects have been seen right down to department and local clothes stores, where lines of larger and plus-size fashions are expanding, becoming more colorful and more ornate. In the fitness industry, health gurus Madonna Grimes and Billy Blanks have been revolutionizing how people get fit and how fitness needs to be redeveloped for the African American population. Advertising has taken a similar turn, not the least manifestation of which were the major campaigns Dove and Nike ran in 2005 with plus-sized actresses (who continue to appear in promotions for both companies). In movies and on television shows, the African American beautiful body image has followed suit.

In this book, medical anthropologist Eric Bailey introduces and explains the self-acceptance and body image satisfaction of African Americans, and traces how that has spurred changes in industry. His book fills the void of scientific evidence to enhance the understanding of African Americans' perceptions related to body image and beauty—and is the first to document these issues from the perspective of an African American male.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Black America, Body Beautiful: How the African American Image is Changing Fashion, Fitness, and Other Industries, by Eric J. Bailey (Praeger Publishers, 176 pages) is an easy read that covers a wide variety and range of subjects. It's because if the wide scope of subjects that the Author tries to encapsulate in this book, that there isn't enough pages to fully understand and appreciate each chapter. There is the feeling that each individual chapter could be an entire separate book of themselves; the individual chapters themselves read like research summaries, attests to the Author's well-meaning and intent." - Encouraging Health

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780275995959
Publisher:
Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
Publication date:
07/30/2008
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

ERIC J. BAILEY, PhD, MPH, is Professor of Anthropology and Family Medicine, and Medical Anthropologist, at East Carolina University. He has served as Health Scientist Administrator at the National Institutes of Health, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the National Cancer Institute. He completed a post-doctoral Fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health. In earlier roles, he served as Program Director for the Masters of Public Health Program in Urban Public Health at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, and as Assistant and Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, Indiana University at Indianapolis, and the University of Houston.

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