Representation of ideal figure size in Ebony magazine: A content analysis

Heather Thompson-Brenner*, Christina Lynn Boisseau, Michelle S. St. Paul

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Studies examining trends over time in mainstream magazines observe decreases in women's figure size, and increases in figure exposure and amount of diet/exercise content. Little is known, however, regarding the content of African American magazines. Utilizing methods from classic studies, this investigation examined content in Ebony, a magazine with wide African American readership, from 1969 to 2008. We included the full content of N= 462 issues, with a total of N= 539 cover images of women, of which N= 208 were full-body shots. Analyses indicated a curvilinear relationship between time and figure exposure, with a recent trend toward more full-body shots, similar to mainstream magazines. Contrary to previous studies, however, the majority of figures across time were average size, and a curvilinear relationship between time and diet/exercise content showed peak content in the early 1990s. Results are considered in context of research indicating African American women show less body dissatisfaction than other racial/ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-378
Number of pages6
JournalBody Image
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011


  • African American
  • Black
  • Magazines
  • Media
  • Thin-ideal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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