Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Employing a United States sample of 5, Yahoo heterosexual internet dating profiles, this study finds race—ethnicity and gender influence body type preferences for dates, with men and whites ificantly more likely than women and non-whites to have such preferences. White males are more likely than non-white men to prefer to date thin and toned women, while African-American and Latino men are ificantly more likely than white men to prefer female dates with thick or large bodies.
This study compares differences in body type preferences for dates between African Americans, Asians, Latinos and whites in the United States. With an intersectionality perspective, we address gender and race—ethnicity simultaneously. Using logistic and linear regressions we analyze a unique dataset compiled from the internet dating profiles of heterosexual males and females, African Americans, Asians, Latinos and whites in the United States, who are between the ages of 18— We expand on the work of several scholars who address the body as a site of inequality e.
Bordo; Collins ; Foster ; Pipher ; Urla and Swedlund ; Wolf by examining the intersection of race—ethnicity and gender, as they affect body type preferences for potential partners. There is mixed evidence regarding racial—ethnic differences in body type preferences. Some studies suggest that culture plays a ificant role in body type preferences with African Americans and Latinos more accepting of heavier body types than whites e. Crandall and Martinez ; Desmond et al. All of these studies that assess body type preferences are methodologically limited. Many studies include ratings of silhouette figures e.
Allison et al. Altabe ; Demarest and Allen or adolescents Crandall and Martineza specific gender sample Cash and Henry ; Poranor a particular community population e. Cachelin et al.
The methods vary ificantly. For example, several of these studies do not control for the age and education level of respondents see Cachelinand this may for the differences in their findings. Most importantly, they do not test racial—ethnic and gender body type preferences of daters in an actual setting.
It is the first to systematically test the extent to which African-American, Asian, Latino, and white men and women of different ages, and in an actual dating context, may similarly prefer dominant portrayals of ideal bodies; that is thin women and muscular men, in dating preferences. We focus our review of the literature exclusively on those studies that address the United States, unless otherwise noted, since that is the location of our sample of daters. To begin, we are interested in whether men or women are more likely to state specific body type preferences for a date.
There is an extensive literature on sex differences in mate preferences showing that men place greater value than women on the physical attractiveness of an ideal mate e. Although they may do so, there is scant empirical data showing the extent to which men have more specific body type preferences than do women. While not the focus of their college student speed daters study, Kurzban and Weedenp. While both men and women are held to standards of attractiveness and body ideals, these remain much more demanding for women than for men Bordo ; Urla and Swedlund Women also suffer harsher social consequences for violating standards of beautiful bodies than men Cash and Roy ; Stake and Lauer Overweight female college students are less likely to be currently dating, more likely to date less frequently overall, and to perceive their dates as less satisfied when compared to overweight male college students Stake and Lauer To be certain, images of muscular men have gained popularity Spitzer, Henderson, and Zivian ; Trujillobut representations of men are far less constrained Hanke ; Nixon because men also gain status from power, wealth or prestige Hanke Therefore, we expect:.
We test this hypothesis with two logistic regression models. Past research has identified these factors as important predictors of marital partner choice or body type preferences. Although our focus is on racial—ethnic and gender differences, we also consider the influence of other factors that have typically been studied in conjunction with mate selection including age, level of education and geographic region see Kalmijn for a comprehensive review of intermediaries in marriage trends.
Education is another important control for various reasons. First, there are racial—ethnic variations in education on a national level Kanewhich are also present in our sample.
Bolig et al. We also control for age and region. Men and women differ in their age preferences for mates; men generally prefer younger women and women prefer older men Wiederman It might also be the case that body and beauty norms vary by the region of the country in which one lives. For example, Georgia has higher obesity rates than California CDCso a dater in Atlanta may be more open to larger body types and less open to smaller body types than a dater in L. The daters in our sample are from within 50 miles of four U. We selected these four regions to ensure diversity in our sample, as these are geographically dispersed and have different racial—ethnic compositions.
Since we expect that body type preferences will vary by race—ethnicity, it is important to control for region to be sure we are testing racial—ethnic differences and not simply regional differences. We also control for dater selectivity by measuring the of specific preferences a dater makes. Past research finds one's own body type influences the body types desired in potential dates Cachelin et al. Body type preferences are socially derived; ideals of attractiveness and the body vary by culture Crandall and Martinez ; Shaw and throughout history Mulvey et al.
We assert that body type preferences are driven by mainstream popular culture as well as other racial—cultural influences. Such images provide a standard for all that may be negotiated but must be engaged because of its pervasiveness and its association to structures of power and domination. There are many different images of beauty in various segments of popular culture so that even if dominant hegemonic images persist, individuals are still able to choose among a variety of images. For example, the internet and non-white magazines provide resources that may promote opposing images.
As we stated at the outset, study are inconclusive regarding the extent to which non-whites adhere to dominant standards of beauty.
Similarly, the community study of African American, Asian, Latino and white dieters of Cachelin et al. In contrast, studies show that white men prefer thin bodies for women Greenberg and LaPorte and that they feel they would be ridiculed for dating a woman with a heavier than the ideal body type Powell and Kahnalthough some studies show they equally prefer thin and average bodies Furnham and Radley ; Furnham, Hester and Weir Additional studies confirm racial—ethnic differences such that African-American men are more accepting of heavier women, but white men choose thinner silhouette figures as ideal female body types, and hope their girlfriends will lose weight ificantly more often than African-American men Greenberg and LaPorte Compared to white men, African-American men prefer larger body types for women and attribute fewer negative and more positive personality traits and qualities to obese women Jackson and McGill Other studies show that non-whites are heavily influenced by their respective racial—ethnic cultural standards of beauty e.
For example, race—ethnicity affects what parts of teen magazines young girls focus on, such that African-American girls are less likely than white girls to read the sections focused on beauty tips Duke Non-white minorities, particularly non-white minority women, do not accept the mainstream, white beauty and body ideals see Barnett, Keel and Conoscenti ; Demarest and Allen ; Dukeand are more accepting of heavier bodies defining beauty in terms of personality traits rather than as physical characteristics Landrine, Klonoff and Brown-Collins ; Parker et al.
Beauboeuf-Lafontant and Root find that African-American and Latina women have a lower incidence of eating disorders than do white women, and Schooler and colleagues conclude that exposure to mainstream i. Yet, these findings have been contradicted by the work of Shaw and colleagueswho find no ificant ethnic differences in eating disturbances.
Some scholars suggest that non-whites have oppositional ways of interpreting the dominant cultural images of beauty or that people of color find sources other than mainstream mass media and popular culture to form their ideals of beauty see Craig ; Duke ; Durham Racial—ethnic groups may be insolated by their culture.
Latinos, for example, report higher desired weights for women than do whites Winkleby et al. Shapelier and heavier body types are not only accepted within the community, but more desired. There are few studies assessing the preferred body types of heterosexual Asian Americans, or their preferences for opposite sex body types. The of these studies are contradictory with some concluding that white women are less satisfied with their bodies than are Asian-American women Akan and Grilo ; Altabeand other studies finding Asian-American women are as likely as are white women to have body concerns and weight dissatisfaction Gluck and Geliebter ; Koff et al.
There is some evidence showing that acculturation and the acceptance of Western ideals is a major risk factor for eating disorders among Asian Americans Davis and Katzman ; Hall Asian-American women exhibiting a stronger adherence to family norms are less likely to develop bulimia or anorexia.
This suggests that Asian Americans, much like Latinos, and African Americans similarly experience conflicting messages between their culture and the dominant white culture. Given the conflicting findings of these studies, it is difficult to predict the extent to which racial—cultural influences override the influences of the dominant culture.
Still, we reason that in the absence of competing racial cultural imagery, whites will be more highly influenced than are non-whites by dominant cultural imagery. Hypothesis 2b: White men as compared to non-white men will be more desirous of the dominant, idealized i.
Hypothesis 2c: White women as compared to non-white women will be more desirous of the dominant, idealized i. We employ separate logistic regression models to test each hypothesis. To test hypotheses 2b and 2c we split the sample by gender so that one model includes all male daters, the other all female daters. We suspect that within each gender group, whites will be more likely than all non-white groups African-Americans, Asians and Latinos to desire these idealized body types because they have fewer contending media outlets than do non-whites and have less reason to question these images since people of their same race group are represented.
First we hypothesize that non-whites, both men and women, will be open to a larger variety of body types than their white counterparts:.
Hypothesis 3a: Non-white men will be open to dating women with a wider variety of body types than will white men. Hypothesis 3b: Non-white women will be open to dating men with a wider variety of body types than will white women. We run logistic regressions separately for men and women to determine whether non-white daters are open to a greater of body types than are white daters.
In each of these regressions we restrict our sample to daters who indicate specific body type preferences. The dependent variable for each regression is the of body types ranging from 1 to 10 that a dater indicates as preferable for a potential date.
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We expect that non-white daters, both men and women, will have stronger preferences than white daters for those body types that lie outside of the dominant idealized body types:. Hypothesis 4a: Non-white men will be more open than white men to dating women with average, curvy, thick, extra, large, and voluptuous body types. Hypothesis 4b: Non-white women will be more open than white women to dating men who have slim, slender, average, thick, curvy, extra, large and voluptuous body types.
Lastly, to examine these hypotheses 4a and 4bthat whites, both men and women, will be less open than their non-white counterparts to dating people with body types that fall outside of the culturally dominant ideal, we look at the propensity of daters to choose those body types not captured by the idealized types ly described.
To test Hypothesis 4a, we restrict our sample to men who have body type preferences and run separate logistic regressions to examine the racial—ethnic differences in the propensity to choose each of the body type provided by Yahoo Personals: Slim, Slender, Average, Athletic, Fit, Thick, A few extra, Large, Curvy and Voluptuous. We repeat these methods, using the same set of controls, to test Hypothesis 4b, but restrict our sample to women who have body type preferences.
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Daters are a particularly good gauge for measuring body type preferences since attractiveness is an important criterion of date selection Kurzban and Weeden ; Stewart et al. These data are unique and allow us to analyze dating behavior in a natural setting. While employing internet dater preferences has not been a widely used approach, scholars in a variety of fields are beginning to examine internet, video, and speed daters as well as print advertisements to ascertain what traits are considered when choosing a potential partner Kurzban and Weeden ; Sakai and Johnsonand to locate differences in dating preferences and behaviors by race Miller et al.
A of studies have specifically examined the phenomenon of internet dating Fiore and Donath ; Madden and Lenhart ; McKenna et al. We collected dating profiles from Yahoo Personals, a national, internet dating site that, at the time of data collection, did not charge a fee for this service.
At the time of data collection, Yahoo Personals was also the most popular internet dating website in the United States Madden and Lenhart Dating profiles were collected between September and May by logging into the website as a user. For all searches, an age category of 18—50 years old was selected, as those over the age of 50 are less likely to be internet users Madden and Lenhart These cities provide regional diversity, while also varying in racial composition and ideology.