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Andrea Gonzales (Scott)

1998 Research

Abstract:  Differences in African American and Caucasian Female Body Image

Mentor: Dr. Theresa Martin, Psychology

The dominant culture in America places an extreme value on appearance. Magazine and television advertisements often depict women who are unrealistically thin for their height but are considered attractive and are what many women strive to look like. Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa continue to increase as a result of negative body image. Most of the research that has been done in the area of body image has mainly focused on Caucasian women an some comparison with African American women. Research has shown that African American women do not diet as much and do not strive to be as thin as their white counterparts. African American women have higher levels of self-esteem and an overall positive body image. Can a person's ethnic background somehow protect them from such strong ideals in American society? More research is needed with emphasis on other ethnic groups to determine the reasons why some women develop negative body image and others do not. I will extend my research this spring and look at how acculturation might play a role in the development of negative body image.

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