Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Nancy J. Carbonell,

Second Advisor

Dennis Waite

Third Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Abstract

Problem: Literature on the relationship between ethnic identity and body image has been scarce, focusing almost entirely on the Asian and/or Hispanic population. The purpose of this study is to examine the influence that ethnic identity has on the body image of undergraduate females.

Method: In the present study, I explored the extent to which body image is related to ethnicity in a diverse sample of 345 undergraduate females (43.5% Caucasian American, 17.4% African American, 9.3% West Indian/Caribbean, 14.8% Hispanic American, 12.5%, Asian American, & 2.6% Multi-ethnic) from a Seventh-day Adventist university. Possible correlates of body dissatisfaction such as ethnic identity, religious commitment, sociocultural pressure, and internalization of the thinness ideal were also explored.

Results: Results of this study indicated that low ratings on Sociocultural Pressure and Internalization of the Thinness Ideal were related to positive body image perceptions. As a whole, undergraduate females in this study presented with a positive body image. Specifically, the women expressed positive feelings about their bodies, had lower preoccupation with their weight, classified their weight as "normal," and were moderately satisfied with all areas of their body. In terms of ethnic identity, the females in this study had low interest and little awareness of their own ethnicity. As seen in previous research, the only significant correlates of body image that emerged in this study were sociocultural pressure and internalization of the thinness ideal.

Conclusions: Body image concerns of undergraduate females may not be as prevalent as once thought. Females are displaying greater body satisfaction than in the recent past. Differences in body dissatisfaction among the Seventh-day Adventist sample including various ethnic groups are becoming non-existent. This may be due to the Seventh-day Adventist culture serving as a protective factor against body image dissatisfaction. Another possible explanation is the increased emphasis on social media.

Subject Area

Body image--Research, Self-perception, Women college students, Andrews University--Students

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