Body image, physical beauty and colour among Jamaican adolescents

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Social and Economic Studies: Vol 18 No. 1 1969: Pp 72-89

Body Image, Physical Beauty and Colour among Jamaican Adolescents involved a sample of Jamaican adolescents all of whom had been previously classified by race or shade of skin colour. The racial and colour categories in which adolescents had been classified were Black, Dark, Clear, Fair, White, Indian and Chinese. This mixed sample of adolescents, males and females, were asked to respond to six items on an open-ended Questionnaire. The six items were: Describe your idea of a handsome boy; Describe your idea of the Beautiful Girl.; Are you handsome or beautiful? What do you like about your Body; (Body includes everything – face, hands, feet); What do you dislike about your body? What would you change if it were possible? Miller administered the questionnaire to all adolescents in the sample, who attended different schools.

The responses of students on each Item of the Questionnaire were analyzed in relation to the racial or colour category in which they had been previously placed. The analysis was to determine the following: Did students describe different concepts of physical beauty accordingly to racial or colour category or shared a common concept of beauty irrespective of racial or colour category? What were the physical features that comprised their concepts of beauty, specific or shared? How did these adolescents assess their personal physical features within their conception of physical beauty?

The major findings of this study were that these Jamaican adolescents shared one common conception of beauty that was composite, that is, combined features from different racial groups and colour categories. Further, their common composite concept of beauty served as the benchmark against which they assessed their personal physical features with respect to what they liked, disliked or would change if it were possible.

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Professor Errol Miller has had a rather unique professional and public service career which has given him almost a three hundred and sixty-degree exposure within the education enterprise. He has been a high school science teacher; university lecturer in science education; college principal; university professor, chancellor of a university college, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education; independent senator in the Parliament of Jamaica; a president of the teachers’ association; a chairman of the board of the state broadcasting corporation; chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica; a researcher; an author; an international consultant; chairman or member of several school and college boards.
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