This research examines the social construction of beauty in our society and the ways that it is portrayed in the media. It also analyzes the many negative effects this can have on women, especially in terms of body dissatisfaction, which has been found to result from exposure to beauty ideals (Stice, Schupak-Neuberg, & Shaw, 1994). It is important to note that much of the existing research regarding these topics focuses on white women and generalizes these results to women of all races and ethnicities. (Zinn,1990) For this reason, the variable of ethnic identity was explored. Previous studies have indicated that level of identification with one’s ethnic groups may affect one’s body image, as well as the extent to which one is influenced by beauty standards. (Poran, 2002). Participants consisted of African American, Asian, and Latina women at the College of Wooster. All participants completed surveys intended to measure levels of media consumption, body satisfaction and ethnic identity. It was hypothesized that a predictive relationship would exist between media consumption and body satisfaction, as well as ethnic identity and body satisfaction. A small portion of participants were also interviewed, in order to further explore their ideas surrounding their own opinions and understandings of beauty, as well as the possible influences that shaped these views. Linear regressions and correlations were run using the survey data. Ultimately, there were no significant results in terms of media consumption and body satisfaction. In terms of ethnic identity and body satisfaction, analyses indicated significant results, although in the opposite direction of what was predicted. The interviews also provided important qualitative data that contributed to existing discourse surrounding these concepts. While a survey may not have been able to explore these ideas in depth, interviews allowed participants to work through and elaborate on their personal ideas of beauty, which was not a ickert 6 BEAUTY IDEALS, ETHNIC IDENTITY, AND BODY IMAGE component of many of the existing studies regarding these issues. This research compared and contrasted society’s commonly accepted idea of attractiveness with individuals’ personal opinions regarding what it meant to be beautiful. These differences were investigated, as well as their origins and the ways in which they affect issues faced by women in our society.


Thelamour, Barbara



Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Allison M. Nickert