Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Health Science and Human Ecology

First Reader/Committee Chair

Monideepa Beccera


Objective: This study sought to examining the gender-based expectations of an ideal body, for self and opposite gender, among college students.

Methods: The study used a qualitative approach using thematic analysis. Common words and phrases were first identified and later grouped into category, through open and axial coding respectively. Next, central theme was identified using selective coding.

Results: This study examined a total of 145 student participants responses of which 94 were self-identified women and 51 were self-identified men. The results reveal that men’s ideal body perception for a woman is different than women’s expectations for women. For example, women’s perceptions of ideal body for women were focused on features such as lips, nose, eyebrows; whereas the men’s perception of ideal body for women was considered to be a small body type. Similarly, there was also variation of ideal body expectations for men. Although both men and women considered fit body types to be the most ideal body for men, women also reported personal hygiene as being an important factor. Furthermore, the men’s perception focused more on body types rather than other factors such as hygiene.

Conclusion: Our results show unique differences in body image perception based on self-identified gender. These results can aid public health professionals in creating targeted body positivity initiatives.