A thematic analysis of female University students' perception of idealised body image in Sudan and their experiences of performing common beauty practices
: (Skin lightening, applying black henna dye and purposively induced weight)

  • Ibtisam Ismail Ahmed

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    There is a variation in what considered as social ideal body image by different people and ethnic groups throughout the world; these variations reflect the diversity in cultural values (Sahay and Piran 1997). This study investigated the nature and development of beliefs related to three beauty practices; purposeful weight gain, skin lightening and skin decoration with black henna. The study conducted in Sudan to explore behaviours associated with these three beauty practices in educated young Sudanese women. Nineteen female university students from different universities across Khartoum were interviewed using an open-ended interview technique. These participants came from both Christian and Muslim families and, regardless of their original place of residence, were all city-residents at the time of this study. The interviews were conducted in Arabic, transcribed and then translated into English by the interviewer to ensure data integrity was maintained.

    The interviews were analysed using a thematic analysis. The findings indicated that while the majority of interviewees were aware of some, if not all, of the health risks associated with their beauty rituals this did not deter them from practicing these rituals. Further exploration of the themes indicated that the practice of what might seem nonrational beauty-related behaviours served a range of potential purposes including economic reasons, social esteem reasons and also the motivation to maintain a strong national identity as a Sudanese woman. These findings are discussed in a broader context of health-related beliefs and practices and recommendations made for further studies.
    Date of AwardMar 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJane Prince (Supervisor) & Roiyah Saltus (Supervisor)


    • Sudanese Women
    • social ideal body
    • Beauty practices
    • Body image
    • cultural values
    • Sudan

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