Main content area

Bodily Aesthetic Ideals Among Latinas With Type 2 Diabetes : Implications for Treatment Adherence, Access, and Outcomes

Weitzman, Patricia Flynn, Caballero, A. Enrique, Millan-Ferro, Andreina, Becker, Anne E., Levkoff, Sue E.
TheDiabetes educator 2013 v.39 no.6 pp. 856-863
Latinos, aesthetics, attitudes and opinions, body size, diabetic complications, disease control, energy, exercise, focus groups, masculinization, noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, pain, teachers, weight loss, women
The purpose of this study was to examine how attitudes and practices related to bodily aesthetic ideals and self-care might inform the engagement of Latinas with type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Focus groups were used to collect qualitative data concerning bodily aesthetic ideals and diabetes management, including help-seeking experiences, from Latina women with T2DM (n = 29) receiving care through Latino Diabetes Initiative at the Joslin Diabetes Center. Focus groups were conducted in Spanish, audiotaped, transcribed, and content analyzed. Four main themes emerged: (1) a preference among participants for a larger than average body size, although perceptions of attractiveness were more closely linked to grooming than body size; bodily dissatisfaction centered on diabetes-induced skin changes, virilization, and fatigue rather than weight; (2) diabetic complications, especially foot pain, as a major obstacle to exercise; (3) fatalistic attitudes regarding the inevitability of diabetes and reversal of its complications; and (4) social burdens, isolation, and financial stressors as contributing to disease exacerbation. Interventions that emphasize reduced body size may be less effective with Latinas who have T2DM than those that emphasize the benefits of exercise and weight loss for skin health, energy levels, and reduced virilization.