A new study led by a University of Florida researcher shows that African-American women are less likely to develop negative body images based on media ideals.
According to the report, earlier studies showed a negative correlation between extremely thin models and women’s perception of their own bodies. However, the recent study led by Heather Hausenblas found race also plays a factor in women’s body dissatisfaction and the media’s influence.
“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 Hausenblas, who conducted the research with doctoral student Ninoska DeBraganza, in an interview posted on the school’s website. “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.”
Hausenblas showed two sets of images to 31 White and 30 Black undergraduate students. Both sets of photographs featured White female models, but one set showed extremely thin women with bodies generally considered “media ideals.” The other set included photos of women with more average builds.
While African-American women reported no change in body dissatisfaction after viewing both sets of slides, the White participants said they experienced more body dissatisfaction after observing the “media ideal” models.