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On-line version ISSN 2223-6279
Print version ISSN 0379-8577

Curationis vol.31 n.1 Pretoria  2008




The relationship between body mass index and self-concept among adolescent black female university students



P BodibaI; SN MaduII; JO EzeokanaIII; OAU NnedumIV

IDepartment of Psychology, University of Limpopo.South Africa
IIDepartment of Psychology, University of Limpopo.South Africa
IIIDepartment of Psychology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka .Nigeria
IVDepartment of Psychology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka .Nigeria





The study investigated the relationship between body mass index and self-concept among adolescent black female university students.
The study used a mixed research design (quantitative and qualitative methods). Media images of handsome faces and beautiful bodies are used to sell almost everything, from clothes and cosmetic to luncheon, meats, and so on. These images reinforce the western cultural stereotype that women should be thin and shapely to be attractive. Thus, as some girls go through puberty they may become dissatisfied with their weight, and to a lesser extent, with their shape, thus, developing low self-concept or imae of themselves. It is in this context that the study was conceptualised. First year female students from three different Schools and Faculties at the University of Limpopo, Turfloop Campus, South Africa, participated in the study. Using the availability and convenient sampling method, 75 students were selected for this study. For the quantitative aspect of the study, the Rosenberg Self-esteem Measure was used to measure self-esteem. For the qualitative part, a topic guide was used for the focus group discussions. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and the Pearson's Product Moment Correlation were used to analyse the quantitative data, while the phenomenological principle of open coding used for the thematic analysis. Results showed that there is a relationship between body mass and self-concept and that overweight participants tend to have a low self-esteem. Low self-esteem was perceived to be aggravated by a number of factors, like the attitude of the media and the society. Participants who are overweight also indicated that they are limited in certain activities of daily living (e.g., sports) as a result of their body mass. They expressed mixed feelings and frustration when it comes to such activities.
The above results did not differ from those reported from western cultures. Support groups, life-skills programmes and psychotherapy should be made available and attainable for overweight female adolescent students.

Key Words: self-esteem, adolescent, students, body mass



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Prof. S. N. Madu
Department of Psychology
University of Limpopo
Turfloop Campus
Private Bag X1106, Sovenga 0727
South Africa
Tel/Fax: (015)268-2318

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