American Sociological Association

Are Feminine Body Weight Norms Different for Black Students or in Black Schools? Girls’ Weight-Related Peer Acceptance across Racialized School Contexts

Adolescent girls with overweight or obesity are less socially integrated than their thinner peers. We examine racial-ethnic differences in girls’ weight-related friendship patterns, especially noting Black–white distinctions given their different norms about the ideal feminine form. We also test whether schools with more Black students see diminished weight-related differences in peer integration for all girls and/or for Black girls. Using 1994–1995 data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, we predict the number of friendship nominations girls receive conditional on their weight status, race-ethnicity, and school’s racial composition. Both white and Black girls with overweight or obesity are less integrated than their thinner peers regardless of the school’s Black enrollment rate. Hispanic girls with overweight are more integrated than white girls with overweight, particularly in schools with low Black enrollments. The relative consistency of girls’ weight-related friendship patterns demonstrates the ubiquity of dominant feminine thinness norms.


Molly A. Martin, Tori Thomas, Gary J. Adler, Jr., and Derek A. Kreager





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