The intersection of cultural factors on second-generation Mexican American college women's body image: A constructivist grounded theory




Boie, Ioana

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Previously believed to be an individual trait, body image research has typically focused on the role of body image dissatisfaction in the etiology of eating disorders. Current research on body image has slowly shifted from focusing solely on White women to comparing ethnic groups. However, to date, few studies provide a comprehensive examination of body image in other diverse populations, specifically in Mexican American women. Mexican American women have been documented to experience similar levels of body image dissatisfaction as their White counterparts (Grabe & Hyde, 2006), and have higher chances of being undiagnosed and undertreated for an eating disorder (Viladrich et al., 2009).

Using Constructivist Grounded Theory, this study examined the intersection of cultural factors on second-generation Mexican American second-generation college women's body image. Twenty-five participants provided rich accounts of their experiences, contributing to the development of a theoretical Relational Cultural Body Image Development Model (RCBIDM). The layered model included physical characteristics, determining incidents, identity, relational, cultural and contextual layers. As a result of the multiple interactions between the layers, the participants described feelings, the intersectionality of different identities, and strategies used to cope with and celebrate their bodies. Implications for mental health counseling, eating disorder prevention, and counselor education are also provided.


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Body image, Constructivist Grounded Theory, Cultural factors, Intersectionality, Mexican American