Monday, 30 October 2017

Asian-Americans: Facing Less Prejudice When Overweight

"We found that there was a paradoxical social benefit for Asian-Americans, where extra weight allows them to be seen as more American and less likely to face prejudice directed at those assumed to be foreign."
Sapna Cheryan

According to a study carried out by Handron et al., heavier Asian-Americans are seen as more US-American than those of normal weight and less likely to be viewed as being in the country illegally.

Interestingly, only Asian-Americans are considered to be more US-American when they were overweight:
"Asian-Americans but not white, black, or Latino Americans are associated with foreign countries that are not seen as stereotypically overweight, which enables greater weight to signal an American identity." (via)
"Can being overweight, a factor that commonly leads to stigmatization, ironically buffer some people from race-based assumptions about who is American? In 10 studies, participants were shown portraits that were edited to make the photographed person appear either overweight (body mass index, or BMI > 25) or normal weight (BMI < 25). A meta-analysis of these studies revealed that overweight Asian individuals were perceived as significantly more American than normal-weight versions of the same people, whereas this was not true for White, Black, or Latino individuals. A second meta-analysis showed that overweight Asian men were perceived as less likely to be in the United States without documentation than their normal-weight counterparts. A final study demonstrated that weight stereotypes about presumed countries of origin shape who is considered American. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that perceptions of nationality are malleable and that perceived race and body shape interact to inform these judgments."
Handron et al., 2017

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- Handron, C., Kirby, T. A., Wang, J., Matskewich, H. E. & Cheryan, S. (2017). Unexpected Gains. Being Overweight Buffers Asian Americans From Prejudice Against Foreigners. Psychological Science, 28(9), 1214-1227.
- photograph by Dorothea Lange (1942) via, title: "Oakland, Calif., Mar. 1942. A large sign reading "I am an American" placed in the window of a store, at [401 - 403 Eighth] and Franklin streets, on December 8, the day after Pearl Harbor. The store was closed following orders to persons of Japanese descent to evacuate from certain West Coast areas. The owner, a University of California graduate, will be housed with hundreds of evacuees in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration of the war" (literally via)