The Impact of Race and Ethnic Identity on Body Dissatisfaction and Fit Ideal Internalization in College Age Females
Dunn, Monica R
This item will be available on: 2023-05-01
Body dissatisfaction (BD) negatively impacts health risk behaviors (drug, alcohol use, and self-harm), mental health outcomes (self-esteem, depression, and suicidal ideation) and psychosocial quality of life in females. Most of the research conducted on BD has primarily studied White females and their drive for thinness; this research is limited and less generalizable because it lacks representation of diverse racial populations in the US. A majority of research conducted on BD has been correlated and predicted by the individual’s drive for thinness (thin ideal internalization). However, an increasingly prevalent body image issue is the drive to attain an ultra-fit body, characterized by a very toned and lean body, known as the fit ideal internalization. PURPOSE: To assess how race and ethnic identity impacts a woman’s internalization of the fit body ideal and BD. METHODS: Female college students between the ages of 18-25 years were recruited to take an online survey. Demographic and body image questionnaires were used. An independent t-test was used to analyze the impact of race on the internalized fit ideal and BD. A linear regression model was used to assess the impact of ethnic identity on the internalized fit ideal and BD. RESULTS: Participants (N = 340; 21.5±1.9 years; 36% Non-White) had an average BMI of 25.1±5.5 kg/m2. After separating the sample by race (White females versus Non-White females), fit ideal internalization (FIIT) and BD was assessed. FIIT is scored from 1 to 5 with higher scores indicating higher FIIT. White females (n=217) scored 3.3 ± 0.7 while Non-White females (n=121) scored 3.1 ± 0.7 (p=.588); thus, there was no significant difference between White and Non-White females on FIIT. Ethnic identity (B=-.023, p=.631) was not shown to significantly influence FIIT; thus, the more a college female identifies with her ethnicity there is no impact of this identity on her internalization of the fit body ideal. BD is scored from 1 to 5 with lower scores indicating higher BD. White females (n=217) scored 3.2 ± 0.7 while Non-White females (n=121) scored 3.3 ± 0.7 (p=.588); thus, there was no significant difference between BD in White versus Non-White females. Ethnic identity (B=.071, p=.127) was not shown to significantly influence body dissatisfaction; thus, the more a college female identifies with her ethnicity there is no impact of this identity on her dissatisfaction with her body. CONCLUSION: FIIT and BD are public health issues that impact women of all races. To address body image issues in women, FIIT must be assessed in clinical settings as it plays a key predictive role on BD. Marketing health and fitness through the attainment of an ultra-fit body type, needs to be re-evaluated as internalization of a fit body ideal has damaging effects on body image of women of all races. To empower a generation of physical health and psychosocial well-being, promoting body positivity is essential.
East Carolina University