Racial Identity Buffers African American Women From Body Image Problems and Disordered Eating

Laurel B. Watson, Julie R. Ancis, D. Nicholas White, Negar Nazari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of our study was to extend tenets of objectification theory to a sample of 278 undergraduate African American women. We hypothesized that internalized multiculturally inclusive racial identity attitudes would moderate the relationship between sexually objectifying experiences and internalized sociocultural standards of beauty, which would then correlate with less body surveillance. In turn, we predicted that less body surveillance would be associated with less body shame, appearance anxiety, and greater interoceptive awareness, which would likely be associated with decreased eating disordered behaviors. A moderated mediation analysis supported the overall model, suggesting that internalized multiculturally inclusive racial identity attitudes buffer against sexually objectifying experiences. When sexually objectifying experiences were high and internalized multiculturally inclusive racial identity attitudes were low, participants were more likely to internalize dominant standards of beauty, which was then associated with increased body surveillance, body shame, appearance anxiety, disordered eating, and poorer interoceptive awareness. Interventions aimed to assist African American women develop a positive race salience and challenge sociocultural standards of beauty seem warranted in order to diminish body image concerns and disordered eating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-350
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology

Keywords

  • body image
  • eating disorders
  • ethnic identity
  • objectification theory
  • racial and ethnic attitudes
  • social identity

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