Relationship of Body Size, Body Image, and Self-Esteem in African American, European American, and Mexican American Middle-Class Women

Health Care Women Int. Jul-Aug 2002;23(5):460-6. doi: 10.1080/073993302760190065.


In this study we examined the influence of ethnicity on weight, body image, and self-esteem among adult women while controlling for socioeconomic status (SES). Fifty women of African American (AA), European American (EA), and Mexican American (MA) descent completed interviews and questionnaires related to body size and self-esteem, and were measured for weight and height. AA women were significantly heavier than EA women, but MA women did not differ materially from either grouping. Regardless of ethnic descent, all reported congruence between real and ideal body size. In addition no differences were found in self-esteem. This new comparative study calls into question variations previously attributed to race or ethnicity. It also provides a view of middle-class women missing from recent research. Based on the outcomes of our research, we suggest that socioeconomic differences could be more important than ethnic background. Health educators and providers may find these data helpful when designing prevention and intervention strategies for middle-class women regardless of their ethnic origin.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Body Image*
  • Body Weight*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mexican Americans / psychology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Women's Health*