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Differences indicating that skin tone plays a pivotal

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differences indicating that skin tone plays a pivotal role in determining education, occupation, and family income for women only. Psychological/Social Functioning Much of what has been written regarding the psychological consequences of skin tone bias for African Americans focuses on Black women. The counseling literature describes many difficulties that women may face because of a close association between skin tone and physical attractiveness (Boyd-Franklin, 1991; Russell, Wilson, & Hall, 1992; Neal & Wilson, 1989). Light-skinned women may experience misunderstanding by darker Blacks who fail to acknowledge the problems that being light presents. Also, light African American women may feel a degree of uncertainty in their dealings with men who may not be able to see beyond their bias about skin tone and relate to them as people (Okazawa-Rey et al., 1987). Dark-skinned women must cope with a larger society that says she is not attractive, as well as individuals in her own community who may echo this negative message. These women may suffer lower self- esteem as a result of such treatment (Okazawa-Rey et al., 1987). At this point, an empirical test of these observations has not been conducted. A study to determine the impact of skin tone on African American women’s body image, however, has found compatible evidence. From a sample of 66 female Black undergraduates, Bond & Cash (1992) obtained ratings of overall appearance, satisfaction with the facial region, satisfaction with own skin tone, self-perceived skin tone compared to other Black people, and ideal skin tone if one’s own skin tone could be changed. They found no significant differences by skin tone for
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5 ratings of overall appearance, facial satisfaction, or skin tone satisfaction. Inspecting the discrepancy between self and ideal skin tone ratings, however, showed that the greater the difference, the less facial satisfaction expressed by the respondent. Also, a desire to change skin tone and dissatisfaction with skin tone led to more negative ratings of overall appearance and facial satisfaction. Finally, regardless of skin tone, most of the women believed that Black men preferred light-skinned women. Shifting the focus to both genders, Robinson & Ward (1995) conducted a study on skin tone bias and self-esteem with 123 African American adolescents from Maryland, Massachusetts, and California. The adolescents responded to a Rosenberg-derived index on self- esteem and statements about their skin tone compared to other Blacks, the degree to which they liked and disliked their skin tone, and the degree to which they would desire to change their skin tone. Robinson & Ward found a significant positive correlation between self-esteem and liking of own skin tone, such that the more a respondent liked his or her skin tone, the higher the score on the self-esteem index. They did not find a relationship between desire to change skin tone and self-esteem. Those rating themselves as “darker” than other Blacks had lower self-esteem scores than those who believed that they were “lighter” or “somewhere in between.” Finally, significant gender differences were not present for the skin tone variables and self-esteem.
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