Ethnicity as a Protective Factor against Internalization of a Thin Ideal and Body Dissatisfaction

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Objective:We examined the potential for ethnicity to moderate the relationships between awareness and internalization of sociocultural ideals of appearance and between internalization and body dissatisfaction.Method:Spanish (n = 100), Mexican American (n = 100), and European American (n = 100) female participants completed measures of sociocultural attitudes and body dissatisfaction. Path analysis using maximum likelihood with robust standard errors tested the relationships across and within ethnic groups.Results:There was evidence for the mediational effect of internalization on the relationship between awareness and body dissatisfaction. Furthermore, both relationships were significantly stronger for European American women than for Mexican American or Spanish women (the predicted moderator effect).Discussion:Results demonstrate how ethnicity may protect against the development of eating disorder symptoms and suggest that eating disorder prevention should involve denouncing the thin ideal, minimizing appearance as an indicator of value, and emphasizing traits other than appearance as determinants of worth. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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