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"Mirror, mirror on the wall who's the buffest of them all" : traditional masculine role norms and body image discrepancy in Indian school going boys.

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This study investigated the relationship between traditional masculine role norms, body image discrepancy, body appearance schemas, and sociocultural attitudes towards appearance in a sample of 495 Indian South African school going boys, between the ages of 13 and 18 years old. The main objective of this research study was to investigate the interrelationships between these variables in terms of how they relate to the experience of body image discrepancy for Indian males in the context of the regulatory norms and practices of traditional masculine ideology. Also examined were the traditional male role norms associated with the boys’ cognitive body appearance schemata. In addition this study attempted to identify the role played by the portrayal of Indian male somatoforms in Indian cinema on the personal and collective evaluation of masculine appearance for a sample of Indian school boys. The variables of interest were measured using the Masculine Role Norms Inventory (MRNI; Levant & Fisher, 1998), Lynch and Zellner’s Body Figure Drawings (1999), Appearance Schemas Inventory (ASI; Cash & Labarge, 1999), and the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Scale-3 (SATAQ-3; Thompson, van den Berg, Roehrig, Guarda, & Heinberg, 2004). The above constructs were considered in light of biographical questions which pertained to self-worth, the psycho-behavioural implications of pursuing an enhanced appearance, and Indian cinema. The findings of this study showed how a sample of South African Indian boys are defining and refining a localized masculine sense of self within the broader interplays of South African gender relations and masculinities. Analysis revealed the traditional masculine role norms of status-seeking, heterosexism, anti-femininity, and emotional stoicism, shared positive and significant correlations with body image discrepancy. Nontraditional masculine attitudes were similarly associated with body image discrepancy. Moreover it was shown that the influences of sociocultural attitudes towards appearance, and a more substantial investment in body appearance, were key ingredients for participants positioning an athletically muscular and toned male body as their ethnomorphological and masculine ideal. Finally, concerning trends in steroid and supplement use were illustrated as foremost risk behaviours associated with support for a muscularised, traditionally masculine subjective and normative agenda.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2010.


Teenage boys--South Africa., Indians--South Africa., Somatotypes--South Africa., Masculinity--South Africa., Body image in adolescence--South Africa., Men--Identity., Theses--Psychology.