Media Does Less Harm to Black Women’s Body Image

February 22, 2011  |  

(University of Florida) — It’s no secret that media images of the “ideal” body type can lead women to be critical of their own bodies and can even contribute to eating disorders.  However, with the start of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week today, a University of Florida researcher points to a study showing that African-American women are less susceptible to media-driven body dissatisfaction.  While previous studies have shown the negative influence of thinner-than-average models on body image, the UF study by exercise psychologist Heather Hausenblas shows that race can have a moderating effect.

“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 co-authored the research with doctoral student Ninoska DeBraganza. “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.”

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