African-American Women Less Affected by Media Body Standards


New research from the University of Florida shares that media-based body standards are less likely to affect African-American women.

The study found white women were more likely to become dissatisfied with their bodies when shown “media-ideal” models than African-American women were.

“We’re bombarded with media images of what’s considered ideal. We wanted to measure the influence of race on how that makes women feel about their bodies,” said researcher Heather Hausenblas on the school’s website.

Previous studies have been done measuring women and their body dissatisfaction when shown thin models. Hausenblas, an exercise psychologist at the University of Florida, found that race has an effect as well.

“We know that African-American women report less body dissatisfaction overall than Caucasian women, who are the most affected of all ethnicities. But to my knowledge, no study on media influence had ever taken the ethnicity of the models into account,” said Hausenblas.

In the study, two sets of pictures were shown to 30 African-American and 31 white undergraduate students. One set of pictures showed thin, white, “media ideal” female models, while the other set showed white, female models with a more average build.

The study found that African-American women showed no change in body dissatisfaction after seeing both sets of pictures.

“We’re hoping to make people more aware that media images can have a negative effect, and not just generalize about it,” Hausenblas said. “If we don’t know the effects of ethnicity, interventions for body dissatisfaction might not work.”

Does seeing models impact how you feel about your size? Share your thoughts.


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