Thesis

The effects of acculturation, familism, media, and trait self-objectification on body image concerns of Hispanic and Caucasian women

The current study sought to expand the understanding of the differences between Hispanic and Caucasian women in regards to body image. The predominant thought in body image research appears to be that women of an ethnic minority do not internalize media images to the same level as Caucasian women, and therefore do not experience the same level of dissatisfaction if this ideal is not met. However, the results of this study yielded no significant differences between Hispanics and Caucasians on levels of either trait self-objectification or internalization. Past research had shown that familism and level of acculturation could buffer against negative body esteem, and it was hypothesized that those factors would act as buffers among Hispanic participants. However, correlation analyses for this study found that neither familism nor level of acculturation acted as a buffer among Hispanic participants. There were no significant correlations between body esteem and trait self-objectification, internalization, familism, and acculturation. Furthermore, this study examined how varying levels of skin exposure in pictures affected a woman’s level of body esteem. Results yielded no main effect of condition on level of body esteem. It is possible these results are due to the lack of difference between the two ethnicities in regards to internalization and trait self-objectification. Unrealistic media images may have become so pervasive, that the traditional, assumed protective factors of ethnicity and culture are no longer efficacious.

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