Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

J. Kevin Thompson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jack Darkes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jamie Goldenberg, Ph.D.


Beauty Standards, Media, Self-Esteem, African American, Psychological Health, Body Dissatisfaction


American culture supports a colorist system that values lighter skin tones in women of color, and these norms are communicated in some part by images present in our society. Previous research has not explored the impact that colorist images may have on the psychological health and appearance concerns of women of color. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether exposure to images of Black women who more closely meet colorist beauty standards (i.e., lighter skin) would negatively impact women’s psychological health and general appearance concerns. It was hypothesized that participants exposed to colorist images of Black women would experience greater increased negative affect, skin tone dissatisfaction, and appearance concerns; and greater decreased self-esteem. It was hypothesized that these relationships would be weaker in Black women who self-identify more closely with their ethnic background. It was further hypothesized that these relationships would be stronger in women with higher levels of internalization, poorer satisfaction with their skin tone, darker skin tones, greater desire for lighter skin, and lower trait levels of self-esteem. Results suggest images of Black women with varying skin tones do not impact the appearance concerns, negative affect, or self-esteem of Black women exposed to such images. However, trait self-esteem, self- identification with Black values, skin tone dissatisfaction and desired skin tone were found to moderate these relationships. This study makes an important contribution to the area of appearance and body image concerns specific to women of color. The dissemination of this research may contribute to the improvement of body dissatisfaction constructs specific to women of color.

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