Theses Doctoral

Examining a Sociocultural Model: Racial Identity, Internalization of the Dominant White Beauty Standards, and Body Images among Asian American Women

Cheng, Pei-Han

A plethora of research has shown that body image dissatisfaction significantly impacts women's psychological well-being. However, most of the research studies have only focused on weight or body shape concerns. Little attention was paid to concerns related to other body parts. Additionally, the lack of research on Asian American women has resulted in limited knowledge about the manifestation of their body image concerns, which led to limited culturally-responsive treatments attending to their needs. This current study aimed to bridge the gap in current literature by examining the relationship between racial identity, internalization of the dominant White beauty standards, body image, and psychological distress among Asian American women. The potential ethnic differences in internalization of the dominant White beauty standards were explored. The last research question explored Asian American women's satisfaction with discrete body parts.
There was a total of 472 Asian American adult female participants for this current study. All of the participants completed a questionnaire package, which included a personal demographic sheet, the People of Color Racial Identity Attitude Scale (Helm, 1995), the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire-3 (Thompson, van den Berg, Roehing, Guarda, & Heinberg, 2004), and the Multidimensional Body Self Relations Questionnaire-Appearance Scales (Brown, Cash, & Mikulka, 1990). Path analysis showed several significant results. First, the Awareness-Dominant racial profile was found to significantly associate with higher levels of Body Area Satisfaction. Second, Internalization-General was found to have a significant positive effect on Appearance Orientation and reverse effect on Self-Classified Weight. Third, findings showed that Pressures had a significant positive effect on Overweight Preoccupation and Self-Classified Weight, and negative effect on Appearance Orientation and Body Area Satisfaction. Results showed no ethnic group differences in the internalization of the dominant White beauty standards among Asian American women. Lastly, results showed that Asian American women in this study reported more satisfaction with their racially defined features than body parts that were related to weight, fat distribution, and fitness.
The findings make significant contributions by showing the importance of racial identity and internalization of the dominant White beauty standards in Asian American women's body image development and psychological well-being. Limitations, implications for clinical practices, and directions for future studies are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Carter, Robert T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 13, 2014