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

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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. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)Public Significance Statement: The study investigates culturally relevant body image issues among Asian American men. Results indicate that Asian American men’s body image concerns need to be understood within their unique social, cultural, and racial contexts. The findings highlight the associations between Western hegemonic masculinity, Asian cultural notions of masculinity, and gendered racism and this group’s body image. The study informs culturally competent mental health assessment and interventions for Asian American men. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)



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