A thematic analysis of female university students' perceptions of idealised body image in Sudan, and their experiences of performing common beauty practices
Diversity and equality in health and care
What is known? • Skin lightening, weight gain and henna are common beauty practices in different parts of the world. • Skin lightening, weight gain and henna as beauty practices can cause adverse health effects. • Skin lightening, weight gain and henna can be considered as tools to achieve the social norms or to internalise ideal body image presented by the media. What this paper adds • • Understandings of beauty practices by young female students in Sudan that pose real and increasing health
... increasing health risks • • The role of place and socio-cultural factors underpinning beauty practices that need to be understood when seeking to address associated health risks Important baseline data that can be used to underpin the development of health-promotion programmes of benefit to Sudanese women. ABSTRACT This paper reports on a study that investigated body-image perceptions and the beauty practices, such as skin lightening, black-henna application and purposively induced weight gain, of young, educated Sudanese women. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 female students from universities across Khartoum. Participants came from Christian and Muslim families and, regardless of their origin, were all city-residents. The interviews were conducted and transcribed in Arabic, translated into English, and examined using thematic analysis. The findings indicate that beauty-related behaviours serve various potential purposes, including improvement in economic standing, increased social esteem and the preservation of a strong Sudanese national identity. Although the data was collected in 2006, recent evidence shows these practices remain of importance to young women; there remains a need to explore the range of drivers behind such practices and how best to address their harmful impacts (Yousif et. al 2014) .