Black models under pressure to be skinnier

2011-03-12 15:26

Black fashion models suffer greater pressure to be skinny than their white counterparts in South Africa, according to recent research.

The research conducted by the Perception Lab at the University of St Andrew’s in Scotland was published in the Eating Behaviours journal last month.

It also found that black models were heavier in the US than their white counterparts, but the situation was reversed in South Africa, where black models were skinnier than their white counterparts.

The findings were based on data collected from 572 African and Caucasian fashion models, examining their weight, height and age.

Vinet Coetzee, lead researcher and also head of genetics at the University of Pretoria, said black women were often thought to be protected from developing eating disorders because it was thought that they experienced less cultural pressure to be thin.

“However, African fashion models in South Africa are significantly skinnier than local white fashion models – indicating that they might be experiencing more cultural pressure to be thin,” said Coetzee.

Jade Sham, a booker for Ice Models in Cape Town, said it depended where the models worked.

She said their black models in Gauteng were ­heavier because they catered for the local market.

The few models they had in Cape Town were skinnier as they usually worked for European clients.

Nasco Mihaylov, Grace model agency director, also disagreed with the research.

He said both black and white models struggled to maintain their weight, ­especially if they wanted to be ramp models.

However, there was general consensus that black South African models were healthier than their counterparts in other parts of the continent, Mihaylov said.

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