Africentrism and Gender Role Identification: Exploring the Relationship between Appearance Commentary and Body Image

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Richard Q. Shin


African American Women, Africentrism, Appearance Commentary, Body Satisfaction, Gender Role, Social Physique Anxiety

Subject Categories

Counseling Psychology


One of the most prominent sources of body image disturbance is sociocultural because individuals, especially women, are bombarded with messages regarding their physiques and what is considered physically attractive (Cash & Pruzinsky, 2002; Grogan, 1999; Ludwig & Brownell, 1999.). These messages can be positive or negative, and they come from a variety of sources such as friends, family and the media (Cash & Pruzinsky, 2002). African American women have been found to report greater body satisfaction (Altabe, 1998; Bissell, 2002; Breitkopf, Littleton, & Berenson, 2007) and lower levels of social physique anxiety in comparison to White women (Russell & Cox, 2003; Hasse, Mountord, & Waller, 2007). Researchers have attributed these differences to African American women's racial identification and gender role identification (Hesse-Biber, howling Leavy, & Lovejoy, 2004). However, very few studies have focused exclusively on African American women and within group differences. The studies exploring the specific traditional cultural values that help shape African American women's body image beliefs are also scarce. This study examined the moderating effects of adherence to Africentric values and gender role identification on the relationship between appearance commentary and body image related constructs. One hundred and fifteen participants were recruited through a social networking site to complete on-line surveys. Paper and pencil versions of the survey were also administered to 65 participants recruited in a predominantly African American community in the Northeast. Hierarchical regressions revealed that high allegiance to Africentric cultural values buffered the negative effects of social pressure from media sources to be thin on body satisfaction and social physique anxiety. Contrarily, high allegiance to Africentric values promoted decreased body satisfaction along with reports of frequent exposure to interpersonal negative appearance commentary. Femininity was found to promote increased social physique anxiety in conjunction with participants' reports of receiving infrequent positive appearance feedback. This study provides additional insight into the factors that contribute to body image resilience. Implications for mental health counselors and recommendations for future research are addressed.

This document is currently not available here.