The impact of racial socialization and racial identity on body dissatisfaction in African American women college students



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A lack of knowledge exists regarding the sociocultural factors involved in African American women’s experience of body dissatisfaction. This study examined the body image attitudes of African American women through the constructs of racial socialization from family and racial identity. This study was partially exploratory in nature, as few researchers have examined the relation between racial socialization from family and body dissatisfaction. Specifically, this study examined (1) the relationships between endorsement of various racial socialization messages and body dissatisfaction (2) the relationships between racial identity attitudes and body dissatisfaction (3) the role of racial socialization messages and racial identity attitudes in the prediction of body dissatisfaction (4) racial identity attitudes as mediators of the relationship between racial socialization messages and body dissatisfaction. Participants included 187 African American women. The majority of the population was recruited from a large, southwestern, predominantly White university. With regard to racial socialization, results did not support a significant relationship between Protective messages and body dissatisfaction, Coping messages and body dissatisfaction, and Affirmation messages and body dissatisfaction. However, Stereotyping messages were found to be significant and positively related to body dissatisfaction. Results revealed that among racial identity attitudes Pre-Encounter Self-Hatred was significantly and positively related to body dissatisfaction. Findings did not support significant relationships between Pre-Encounter Assimilation, Pre-Encounter Miseducation, Immersion-Emersion Anti-White, Internalization Afrocentric, Internalization Multicultural Inclusive racial identity attitudes and body dissatisfaction. Additionally, Stereotyping messages and Pre-Encounter Self-Hatred were predictive of body dissatisfaction among this sample of African American women. Finally, Pre-Encounter Self-Hatred racial identity attitudes mediated the relationship between Stereotyping messages and body dissatisfaction. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.