CCI Study Reveals Hispanic Females Least Happy with Body Image

A study conducted at the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication (the Center) at Florida State University concluded that Hispanic females are more dissatisfied with their bodies than any other ethnicity.

Dr. Sindy Chapa, director of the Center, Dr. Felicia F. Jordan Jackson, Dr. Jaejin Lee and Dr. Kimberly A. Davis conducted the study to discover whether ethnicity determines body dissatisfaction among females of different ethnicities. Results concluded that among Asians, African Americans, non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanics (Latinas), Latinas are the most dissatisfied with their bodies.

The second most dissatisfied ethnic group is non-Hispanic whites, followed by African Americans. The least dissatisfied ethnic group is Asians.

Weekly exposure to traditional media — like watching TV or reading magazines or newspapers — was measured to gauge whether it was correlated with negative views on body image. Unexpectedly, traditional media was found to have a weak correlation between exposure and body dissatisfaction — which has not been true in the past.

“While it has to be tested to be verified, this phenomenon could be attributed to an increase in diversity in individuals shown in TV and advertising compared to ten years ago,” Chapa said.

Social media was found to have an overall weak association with body dissatisfaction but there was some association between increasing body dissatisfaction and time spent on video streaming. Chapa attributes this happening to movie celebrities being of slimmer stature than the average American. A recent International Journal of Fashion, Design, Technology and Education study verified this assumption, stating that the average size of American women is 16.

When it comes to body dissatisfaction and TV viewing however, Chapa found that the more hours spent viewing videos and TV does not necessarily mean that body dissatisfaction goes up. African American females were the second largest group of TV and streaming video consumers, but they were not the second most dissatisfied with their bodily image.

Chapa hypothesized that male preferences of certain body types can play a role in the dissatisfaction of body image because the standards can vary by ethnicity. Additional research confirmed her hypothesis, revealing that the perception of male ideals of the female body affects the disparity between female’s perception of their own body image and their ideal body image. The research also concluded that African Americans have the thickest desired body image, followed by Hispanics, and then non-Hispanic whites. Asians have the slimmest desired body image, followed by ethnicities that are categorized as “other” in the study.

The authors titled their research: “The Role of Ethnicity in the Relationship of Media Exposure and Females’ Body Dissatisfaction.” The first part of the study was presented at the 2017 Hispanic/Latino Media & Marketing International Conference and the second part of the study will be presented at the National Communication Association in the fall. The data for the study was collected by Research Now.

“We are very thankful for the overflowing amount of support we have received from the people at Research Now and from the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University,” Dr. Chapa said. “Considering Hispanics are the largest minority in the U.S., studies like these get us one step closer to understanding how Hispanics think and what kinds of things impact them.”

The Center, housed at FSU, is the first of its kind in the U.S. Faculty and students operating the Center are conducting groundbreaking research, serving as a resource for the Hispanic and multicultural marketing industry and equipping students with cutting edge knowledge.