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Understanding the Relationship between Culture and Body Image: How do Asian American and Hispanic American Women Construct a Body Image? Open Access

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The purpose of this research is to better understand how women from diverse cultural backgrounds create and make meaning of a body image; one that is informed by cultural and societal values and expectations. A case study approach was used to explore the vertical depth of Hispanic American and Asian American women's experiences of the relationship between culture and body image.Seven conclusions emerged from this study. First, diverse women experience issues of acculturation and adaptability, as well as feelings of not fitting in to mainstream American culture. Second, for women endorsing a negative or positive body image, body image requires both physical and mental work. Third, undergraduate women from diverse cultural backgrounds participate in a great deal of social comparison mostly with peers and strangers in their immediate environments. Fourth, body image ideals vary by and within culture and are specifically influenced by geographic location, class structure, politics, and religious history. Fifth, qualitative case studies benefit from the use of quantitative methods, specifically to engage participants more immediately in the topic and to reveal concerns not identified in the interview process. Sixth, qualitative studies on body image allow new body image issues to emerge. Seventh, culture is both a protective and risk factor when examining body image in an undergraduate population and varies by geographic location and developmental age.

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