Black Women's Self-Perceptions of Attractiveness Following Exposure to White Versus Black Beauty Standards: The Moderating Role of Racial Identity and Self-Esteem

Authors


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michael J Strube, Department of Psychology, Washington University, One Brookings Drive, Box 1125, St. Louis, MO 63130. e-mail: mjstrube@artsci.wustl.edu

Abstract

This study examined racial identity, self-esteem, and Black versus White beauty standards as moderators of body image perceptions among 60 Black women. In two experimental conditions, subjects evaluated photographs of either three Black models or three White models, all previously determined to be attractive. Control group subjects did not evaluate photographs. All subjects then completed measures of their own body esteem and attractiveness. Results indicated that body esteem was positively related to self-esteem for subjects in the photograph conditions but not for subjects in the control condition. The relative attractiveness ratings of self versus models were dependent on race of the models and subjects' self-esteem, and on race of the models and subjects' racial identity. The first interaction indicated more favorable comparative ratings for subjects with high self-esteem, but only following exposure to White models. The second interaction indicated more favorable comparative ratings for subjects with high African self-consciousness, but only following exposure to White models. Taken together, the results suggest that explicit beauty standards engage a comparison process and, in the case of Black respondents with high self-esteem or with high African self-consciousness, result in self-evaluations that are significantly higher than the attractiveness attributed to White standards of beauty.

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