Global Body and Muscle Satisfaction Among College Men
in the United States and Hong Kong-China
Gordon B. Forbes
Published online: 9 March 2010
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010
Abstract Body dissatisfaction was studied in college men
from a central university in Hong Kong (n=109) and a mid-
Atlantic university in the U.S. (n=114). Hong Kong men
had lower global body satisfaction than U.S. men, but had
greater satisfaction with muscularity, lower drive for
muscularity, and associated fewer positive attributes with
muscularity. A large majority of both Hong Kong and U.S.
men were dissatisfied with their level of muscularity.
Results for global body dissatisfaction were consistent with
reports from studies indicating that East Asian women have
lower body satisfaction than U.S. women. Results from the
measures of muscularity were consistent with Louie’s
(2002) description of the Chinese masculinity. Implications
for sociocultural and feminist theory were discussed.
Keywords Body image
For many years body dissatisfaction and disordered eating
were thought to be gender- and culture-linked phenomena
that occurred primarily among affluent White women in
Western societies (Nasser 1997). Because girls and women
from East Asia tend to have smaller and slimmer bodies
than White Westerners, it was often thought that they were
unlikely to develop body dissatisfaction (Lee 1998).
However, it has been clear for some time that body
dissatisfaction is frequently found among girls and women
in some East Asian societies (e.g., Gordon 2001; Lee and
Lee 2000;Nasser1997). In fact, recent studies of body
dissatisfaction have found that the college women in
Korea and China and early adolescent girls in Korea
actually had greater levels of body dissatisfaction than
U.S. comparison samples (e.g., Jung and Forbes 2006,
2007; Jung et al. 2009). Importantly, these cross-cultural
differences appeared on multidimensional measures of
body dissatisfaction. For example, Jung and Forbes (2006)
found that the body dissatisfaction of Korean college
women exceeded the body dissatisfaction of their U.S.
cohorts on each of 10 measures. Similarly, Jung et al.
(2009) found that early adolescent Korean girls scored
higher than their U.S. cohorts on each of 5 measures of
body dissatisfaction and 2 measures of disordered eating.
These results indicate that the greater levels of body
dissatisfaction among some samples of East Asian women
are both reliable and robust.
Just as it was once thought that body dissatisfaction was
rare among women from non-Western cultures, for many
years it was thought that body dissatisfaction was uncom-
mon in boys and men. However, it is now clear that body
dissatisfaction is reasonably common among Western men
(e.g., McCabe and Ricciardelli 2004;O’Dea and Yager
2006; Pope et al. 2002).
Although both men and women experience body
dissatisfaction, there are important gender differences in
the nature and the degree of their dissatisfaction (e.g.,
Frederick et al. 2007, 2006; McCabe and Ricciardelli 2004;
J. Jung (*)
Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies,
University of Delaware,
304 Alison Hall West,
Newark, DE 19716, USA
G. B. Forbes
Decatur, IL, USA
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University,
Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Sex Roles (2010) 63:104–117