The swimsuit becomes us all: ethnicity, gender, and vulnerability to self-objectification

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2004 Oct;30(10):1322-31. doi: 10.1177/0146167204264052.


Self-objectification theory posits and past research has found that Caucasian women's body image is negatively affected by a stigma of obesity and sociocultural norm of thinness that leads women to self-focus from a critical external perspective. However, research in this area is limited by its methodology and the restricted demographic composition of its study participants. The current study tested 176 men and 224 women of Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, and Asian American descent in a situation that induced a state of self-objectification (e.g., wearing a one-piece Speedo bathing suit) or that served as a control condition (e.g., wearing a sweater). Contrary to previous research, when put in a self-objectifying situation, men and women of every ethnicity experienced negative outcomes (e.g., lower math performance) that parallel those previously found for Caucasian women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Clothing*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Culture
  • Demography
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Obesity
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Factors
  • Shame
  • Stereotyping
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Swimming*