"More Badass Than Cinderella:" Understanding the Relationship Between Body Esteem, Media, and Race for Undergraduate Women at a United States University. Open Access

Flomenbaum, Sari (2017)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/np1939941?locale=en


This research study attempts to understand the relationship between racial identity, media watched as a child, and body esteem for women. In particular, I ask: how does watching Disney Princess movies as a child affect women's body esteem years later and does it affect Black women and White women differently? I investigate this question using a survey and in-depth interviews and located individuals through a preliminary survey. The interview focuses on childhood memories and current thoughts regarding Disney princess movies. The survey consists of a body-esteem scale and general demographic information.

Based on the literature, I hypothesized that Black women who watched more Disney princess movies as children are more likely to have internalized a body ideal more aligned with White norms including thinner body shapes, straighter hair, and lighter skin than Black women who did not watch as many Disney princess movies or did not watch them as often. Similarly, White women who watched more of this media are more likely to have internalized this Disney princess body ideal than White women who watched other media as children.

The data show that White women, on average, had higher body esteem than Black women by an average of half a point on the body esteem scale used in this study. Contrary to my expectations, there were no clear differences between the two groups of women who were more likely to be influenced by Disney princess movies. However, White women who were likely to be influenced by Disney princess movies, on average, had lower body esteem than White women who were likely not to be influenced by these movies. Based on these data, regardless of race, women who watched many Disney princess movies/ watched them often, on average, had body esteem lower than the groups that did not watch many Disney princess movies/ watched them often. Essentially, based on these data the body esteem of women who watched many Disney princess movies or watched them often really are likely to be influenced negatively even ten or more years in the future.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Literature Review 5
What Does it Mean to be a Disney Princess? 5

Media and Body Esteem 8

Race and Body Esteem 12

Hypothesis 17

Methods 17

Measures 20

Frequency of exposure to DPM 20

Racial Identity 22

Body Esteem 22

Insider/outsider status 23

Results 23

Who's the Favored of Them All? 23

"The American Girl Type" 27

Influence of the Disney princess body ideal 30

"Of Course She's Gonna be White Because She's Smart and Pretty" 33

Cinderella Starring Brandy 37

"Pants are for Boys" 39

Limitations and Future Research 42

Conclusion 44

Work Cited 46

Appendices 49

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