Not All Media Images Affect Black Women

Pictures of 'ideal' black women have greater impact, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 27, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- While media images of thin, white women don't affect black women, some do suffer feelings of dissatisfaction with their bodies when they see idealized images of black women.

That's what two University of Missouri-Columbia studies found.

"It appears that black women who are low in body esteem suffer when exposed to idealized images of beautiful black women, yet seem to be somewhat impervious to images of Caucasian women," researcher Cynthia Frisby, an assistant professor of journalism, says in a news statement.

In her research, Frisby used a specialized Body Self-Esteem scale to gauge how the women in her studies viewed their bodies. The first study included 48 women, aged 18 to 22, who observed 18 ads featuring white models for 20 seconds each.

The black women taking part in that first study were not affected by the images of the white models.

The second study included 110 black women who viewed images of "ideal" thin and attractive black and white women. After looking at those pictures, women with low self-esteem measurements reported a reduction in their body satisfaction.

The research will be published in the March 2004 edition of the Journal of Black Studies.

Frisby believes the findings of her studies may be helpful to advertisers.

"Studies such as these should be undertaken in order to help advertisers develop and create effective and accountable advertising messages as well as advance the field of mass communication by providing theoretical insights and explanations for issues related to the media and racial and ethnic concerns," Frisby says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about women's body image and health.

SOURCE: University of Missouri-Columbia, news release, August 2003

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