Asian American Men’s Body Image Concerns: A Focus Group Study


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Abstract

A qualitative study was conducted with 11 Asian American men to examine their body image concerns. From two focus groups, we identified five themes using the thematic analysis approach: (a) messages about attractive characteristics for Asian American men, (b) factors that contribute to confusion about the ideal body image, (c) effects of negative body image, (d) coping with body image concerns, and (e) defining masculinity traits for Asian American men. Participants’ perceptions of what is attractive were closely linked to Western hegemonic masculinity, the media, and Asian sociocultural influences from family. Participants reported feeling confused about what constitutes an ideal body image for them due to the lack of representation and negative stereotypes in U.S. media and gendered racism in U.S. society. Their confusion also arises from discrepant messages they receive from their family and the media. They described several adaptive strategies to cope with negative body image. Lastly, the role of masculinity appears to be a complex issue and may be related to Asian notions of masculinity, Western hegemonic masculinity, and gendered racism.

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