The Influence Of Pop Media On Latina And African American Girls' Self Esteem

3985 words - 16 pages



Lubianka Lopez

Calstate Los Angeles

I. Research Problem

Adolescence is a critical period of growth and emotional turmoil. Adolescence is typically defined as the period beginning about 10-12 years of age and ending around 21-22 years of age (Ashford, Lecroy & Lortie 2001). During adolescence acceptance and appearance are important to the development of self-identity. During puberty males and females experience physical changes that may cause them to have ...view middle of the document...

If this persists for an extended time it may lead them to develop eating disorders.
“According to the socio-biological view, female adolescents appear to be pre-disposed to lower self-esteem, negative body image concepts and eating dysfunction because of biological changes” (Gerrish, 1999). The media may exacerbate this predisposition, but not be the sole cause of adolescent low self-esteem. Further, the onset of puberty and the development of secondary sex characteristics increases young girls’ needs to be attractive and beautiful. These young women internalize what constitutes beauty, popularity and femininity according to the media’s standards.
The research question to be addressed is the following: Is there a relationship between media internalization and its influence on Latina and African American girls’ body image and self esteem? The dependent variable for this research study is self-esteem, body image is a intervening variable, and media internalization is the independent variable.
The significance of exploring Latina and African American girls body image and self-esteem is that little research focuses on ethnic minorities’ self esteem in regards to media internalization. Prior literature focuses predominately on white girls’ self esteem and body image. Researchers have also been interested in gender differences, and how the media may affect boys’ and girls’ self esteem. Little research studies exist that compares Black girls’ self esteem with that of white girls. However, research has neglected to focus on the internalization of media ideals by Latina and African American girls and the impact these images have on their satisfaction with their physical appearance. Also mainstream pop media advertises and promotes the ideals of “white” beauty as being tall, lean and fair. However, Latina and African American girls rarely fit these ideals, therefore it is significant to explore how the media impacts their body image ideals and self-esteem. In addition, the purposed research question will explore the relationship between the intervening variable body image and its effect on self esteem.
The need to explore this research question in our social work profession is that many adolescent girls are suffering from low self-esteem, due to their dissatisfaction with their appearance. Low self esteem and dissatisfaction may lead to depression and other risk factors. If the research suggests that the media is a contributing factor to lowering girls’ self esteem, then this may imply that as a society we need to modify the media industry. Further, we would need to get the parents as well as the educational system involved in educating these youth to reject and question the images they see in the media. Mental health professionals will need to provide these families with emotional support and educate them about the consequences that may arise if their daughters become too obsessed about imitating thinness and beauty. It is...

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