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“It’s not something I can shake”: The Effect of Racial Stereotypes, Beauty Standards, and Sexual Racism on Interracial Attraction

Abstract

Sexual racism, a form of prejudice enacted in sexual or romantic settings, is a complex phenomenon that can interact with racial stereotypes and media representations of beauty to affect interracial attraction. Research suggests that racialized beauty standards and racial stereotypes can perpetuate broader racist tendencies in social interactions. This study aims to develop a critical understanding of how undergraduate students conceptualize the intersection of race and sexuality, and how racial identity shapes their sexual and romantic experiences. Using a qualitative methodology of survey analysis and in-depth interviews, this study examines the attitudes and behaviors of students at a large public university in California, and focuses on the thematic analysis of qualitative data obtained during eighteen student interviews. This research identifies three significant themes: (1) the impact of racial stereotypes on interracial attraction, (2) the media’s tendency to perpetuate Whiteness as a standard of beauty, and (3) the harmful consequences of sexual racism on students’ self-esteem and self-worth. Findings suggest that racial stereotypes, beauty standards, and sexual racism are prevalent among this student community and have harmful consequences for students of color, including decreased self-esteem, sexual repercussions, and internalized racism.

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Funding

This study was funded by the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) Grant (Grant Number 3113), provided by the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Correspondence to Molly Silvestrini.

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Author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Silvestrini, M. “It’s not something I can shake”: The Effect of Racial Stereotypes, Beauty Standards, and Sexual Racism on Interracial Attraction. Sexuality & Culture 24, 305–325 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-019-09644-0

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Keywords

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Racial stereotypes
  • Beauty standards
  • Sexual racism