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An Extension of Objectification Theory: Examining the Roles of Racial and Cultural Factors on Self-Objectification and Depression Among Asian American Women

Kim, Suah

Objectification theory proposed the idea that U.S. culture positions women to be viewed as physical entities foremost, typically to the fulfillment of men's sexual desires. The most damaging aspect of this experience is women's internalization of this perspective into their own sense of self, which has been shown to predict body image issues, eating disturbances, depression, sexual dysfunction, reduced psychological flow, and substance abuse. More recently, there have been efforts to examine how multiple layers of oppression may impact the experiences of sexual objectification and its psychological consequences. This study tested an extension of objectification theory on a sample of 618 Asian American women with the inclusion of race-related experiences, Asian American cultural values, and their relationships with the self-objectification process and depression. Findings indicate that the more participants endorsed Asian American cultural values, the more they engaged in a self-objectification process that involved internalizing mainstream ideals of beauty, monitoring their body appearance, and feeling shame and less satisfaction with race-related features and their bodies in general, which then predicted depression. In considering participants' adherence to Asian cultural values, the internalization of mainstream body ideals was necessary to engaging in self-objectification. Similarly, the more participants endorsed experiencing racial and sexual objectification, the more they engaged in the self-objectification process, which predicted depression. However, internalization of mainstream body ideals was not a necessary link between experiencing objectifying events and engaging in other components of the self-objectification process.
Furthermore, adherence to Asian American cultural values did not have a significant moderation effect on the self-objectification process as predicted.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Sue, Derald W.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 5, 2014