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You are here: Home / Coming Up / Seminar Series: The (In) Significance of Perceived Body Image on Physical Activity: The Importance of the Intersection of Race and Gender

Seminar Series: The (In) Significance of Perceived Body Image on Physical Activity: The Importance of the Intersection of Race and Gender

Rashawn Ray, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Faculty Associate of the Maryland Population Research Center, University of Maryland
When Dec 09, 2013
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 0124B Cole Student Activities Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Talk

Half of U.S. adults do not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity. Among whites, a higher social class leads to more physical activity. However, this pattern does not hold among blacks. This paper proposes that a key explanation for racial differences in physical activity centers on the effect of perceived body image on physical activity, particularly for black women. Black women, compared to White women, are more likely to perceive a larger body as healthy. If someone perceives their body as normal and healthy, it is plausible that they are less likely to engage in physical activity. Using a sample of middle class blacks and whites (N=482), this paper examines the relationship between perceived body image and physical activity. Results show that a smaller perceived body is positively related to physical activity for white women, black men, and white men. However, perceived body image has a non-significant effect on the physical activity of black women. Drawing upon intersectionality theory, I argue that the messages and images that black women receive from the black community and mainstream media lead to a sociocultural reinterpretation of body size where they are more likely to embrace genetic determinism and underestimate the size of their bodies.

About the Speaker

Rashawn Ray

Rashawn Ray is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Indiana University in 2010. From 2010-2012 he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley / UCSF. Ray’s research addresses the mechanisms that manufacture and maintain racial and social inequality. His work also speaks to ways that inequality may be attenuated through racial uplift activism and social policy. Ray’s research interests are social psychology, race and ethnic relations, and race-class-gender. His work addresses three key areas: the determinants and consequences of social class identification, men’s treatment of women, and how racial stratification structures social life. Ray is the editor of Race and Ethnic Relations in the 21st Century: History, Theory, Institutions, and Policy. His work has appeared in Ethnic and Racial Studies, American Behavioral Scientist, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Journal of Higher Education, and Journal of African American Studies. Ray has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health, American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program, Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the Ford Foundation.

Visit Professor Ray's webpage

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