Author ORCID Identifier

0000-0001-6136-6661

Defense Date

2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Suzanne Mazzeo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Faye Belgrave, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kimberly Brown, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Rashelle Hayes, Ph.D.

Fifth Advisor

Jessica LaRose, Ph.D.

Sixth Advisor

Fantasy Lozada, Ph.D.

Abstract

Black women have the highest prevalence of overweight and obesity relative to any other demographic group in the United States, however current weight management interventions appear least effective for them. Although several hypotheses have been proposed to explain these outcomes, few studies have collected data to evaluate how well they fit the lived experiences of Black women. In particular, the potential roles of body image and body dissatisfaction in the development and maintenance of overweight and obesity in Black women are not well understood. Extant literature largely reports that Black women are inoculated from body dissatisfaction due to cultural factors, such as preference for larger body sizes, broader conceptions of beauty, higher levels of body appreciation, and less comparison with the (predominantly White) beauty ideals presented in the mass media. However, recent studies demonstrate that Black women are vulnerable to body dissatisfaction and the associated eating and weight related behaviors. More research is needed to enhance understanding of the unique vulnerabilities and strengths of this group, as they relate to body image and weight management. The current study used a constructivist grounded theory approach and conducted eight focus groups with 30 Black women aged 18-29. Results indicate that not only do Black women suffer from body image dissatisfaction, but because of gendered racism, body dissatisfaction is central to understanding Black women’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Black women’s body image concerns were conceptualized as uniquely related to their intersectional identities as Black and female in two conceptual models. Specifically, many body image concerns were described as what we term racialized body dissatisfaction. In addition to the established negative health outcomes linked to body dissatisfaction, these data suggest that many of the behaviors Black women might engage in to manage racialized body dissatisfaction could actually elicit further psychological and physical harm. Current and future interventions must seriously consider the influence of gendered racism on Black women’s health and design interventions from an intersectional lens. Further, participants recommended that interventions to address weight and eating should target overall health, rather than weight specifically, and explore the influence of body image in Black women’s health and health behaviors.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

12-3-2020

 
 
 
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