The Impact of Skin Color on Mental and Behavioral Health in African American and Latina Adolescent Girls: A Review of the Literature

Abstract

This chapter examines the current literature regarding the significance of skin color and colorism in the lives of African American adolescent girls and Latinas. Issues regarding how girls are socialized to adopt colorist attitudes, how those attitudes impact adolescent girls, and the detrimental health effects of colorism are explored. Concerns related to psychological well-being, behavioral health, and physical health outcomes are also addressed. Additional attention is paid to the dearth of literature on the topic and the importance of future research to address the issues faced by girls of these ethnic groups.

Keywords

Skin Color African American Woman Behavioral Health Adolescent Girl Ethnic Identity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Breland, A. M., & Hyliard, D. (2000, August 13). Skin tone and gender as predictors of academic motivation, perceptions of classroom environment and self-concept in a sample of African American pre-adolescents. Paper presented at the McNair/SROP Student Poster Session, Michigan State University.Google Scholar
  2. Breland, A. M., Coleman, H. L. K., Coard, S. I., & Steward, R. J. (2002). Differences among African American jr. high school students: The effects of skin tone on ethnic identity, self-esteem, and cross-cultural behavior. Dimensions of Counseling: Research, Theory, and Practice, 30(1), 15–21.Google Scholar
  3. Breland-Noble, A. M., & Poole, H. K. (2009, July 24). Breaking the silence & stress in teens. Paper presented at the New Hope Baptist Association Convention, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Durham, NC.Google Scholar
  4. Breland-Noble, A. M., Collins, W., & King, J. (2003). Color-consciousness and African American adults: Self perception, trait ascription, and interpersonal experiences. Dimensions of Counseling: Research, Theory and Practice, 31(2), 1–12.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, L. P. (2007). Black is black–female. http://www.larryponchobrown.com/. Accessed 21 Sept 2011.
  6. Brown, D. L. (2009, July 12). The legacy of colorism reflects wounds of racism that are more than skin-deep. Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/10/AR2009071000022.html. Accessed 21 Sept 2011.
  7. Buchanan, T. S., Fischer, A. R., Tokar, D. M., & Yoder, J. D. (2008). Testing a culture-specific extension of objectification theory regarding African American women’s body image. The Counseling Psychologist, 36(5), 697–718. doi: 10.1177/0011000008316322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Christina, G. (2000). The continual significance of skin color: An exploratory study of Latinos in the Northeast. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 22(1), 94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davis, K. (2005). A girl like me. [Film Writer/Director] [Producer: Reel Works Teen Filmmaking]. [7.08] http://www.mediathatmattersfest.org/films/a_girl_like_me/. Accessed 21 Sept 2011.
  10. de Casanova, E. M. (2004). “No ugly women”: Concepts of race and beauty among adolescent women in Ecuador. Gender and Society, 18(3), 287–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eberhardt, J. L., Davies, P. G., Purdie-Vaughns, V. J., & Johnson, S. L. (2006). Looking deathworthy—Perceived stereotypicality of black defendants predicts capital-sentencing outcomes. Psychological Science, 17(5), 383–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ennis, S. R., Rios-Vargas, M., & Albert, N. G. (2011). The Hispanic population: 2010. In U. S. Census Bureau (Ed.), 2010 census briefs (p. 16). Washington, DC: U. S. Census Bureau.Google Scholar
  13. Eric, U., Nilanjana, D., Angelica, E., Anthony, G. G., & Jane, S. (2002). Subgroup prejudice based on skin color among Hispanics in the United States and Latin America. Social Cognition, 20(3), 198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fegley, S. G., Spencer, M. B., Goss, T. N., Harpalani, V., & Charles, N. (2008). Colorism embodied: Skin tone and psychosocial well-being in adolescence. In W. F. Overton, U. Müller, & J. L. Newman (Eds.), Developmental perspectives on embodiment and consciousness (pp. 281–311). New York: Taylor & Francis Group/Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  15. Glenn, E. N. (2009). Shades of difference: Why skin color matters. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Golden, M. (2004). Don’t play in the sun: One woman’s journey through the color complex. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  17. Gomez, C. (2000). The continual significance of skin color: An exploratory study of Latinos in the Northeast. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 22(1), 94–103. doi: 10.1177/0739986300221005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gonzales-Backen, M. A., & Umaña-Taylor, A. J. (2011). Examining the role of physical appearance in Latino adolescents’ ethnic identity. Journal of Adolescence, 34(1), 151–162. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.01.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Graham, L. (1999). Our kind of people: Inside America’s black upper class. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  20. Grewal, Z. A. (2009). Marriage in colour: Race, religion and spouse selection in four American mosques. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 32(2), 323–345. doi: 10.1080/01419870801961490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gyimah-Brempong, K., & Price, G. N. (2006). Crime and punishment: And skin hue too? American Economic Review, 96(2), 246–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hall, R. E. (1997). Eurogamy among Asian-Americans: A note on western assimilation. The Social Science Journal, 34(3), 403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hall, R. E. (2008). Racism in the 21st century: An empirical analysis of skin color. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  24. Hall, R. E. (2011). Eurocentrism and the postcolonial implications of skin color among Latinos. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 33(1), 105–117. doi: 10.1177/0739986310391639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Herring, C., Keith, V. M., & Horton, H. D. (2004). Skin deep: How race and complexion matter in the “color-blind” era. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  26. Hill, M. E. (2000). Color differences in the socioeconomic status of African American men: Results of a longitudinal study. Social Forces, 78(4), 1437.Google Scholar
  27. Hughes, M., & Hertel, B. R. (1990). The significance of color remains: A study of life chances, mate selection, and ethnic consciousness among black Americans. Social Forces, 68(4), 1105.Google Scholar
  28. Hunter, M. L. (1998). Colorstruck: Skin color stratification in the lives of African American women. Sociological Inquiry, 68(4), 517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hunter, M. L. (2005). Race, gender, and the politics of skin tone. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Jackson, J. S., Torres, M., Caldwell, C. H., Neighbors, H. W., Nesse, R. M., Taylor, R. J., Trierweiler, S. J., & Williams, D. R. (2004). The national survey of American life: A study of racial, ethnic and cultural influences on mental disorders and mental health. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 13(4), 196–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Klonoff, E. A., & Landrine, H. (2000). Is skin color a marker for racial discrimination? Explaining the skin color-hypertension relationship. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 23(4), 329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Landale, N. S., & Oropesa, R. S. (2005). What does skin color have to do with infant health? An analysis of low birth weight among mainland and island Puerto Ricans. Social Science and Medicine, 61(2), 379–391. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.08.029.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lee, S. (1988). School Daze [Film, writer, Director]. [121.0]. USA.Google Scholar
  34. Luisa, N. B., Catarina, I. K., David, R. W., Ana, V. D.-R., & Penny, G.-L. (2006). Self-reported health, perceived racial discrimination, and skin color in African Americans in the CARDIA study. Social Science & Medicine, 63(6), 1415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Molinary, R. (2007). Hijas Americanas: Beauty, body image, and growing up Latina. Emeryville: Seal Press.Google Scholar
  36. Morales, M. C. (2009). Ethnic-controlled economy or segregation? Exploring inequality in Latina/o co-ethnic jobsites. Sociological Forum, 24(3), 589–610. doi: 10.1111/j.1573-7861.2009.01121.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Morrison, T. (1970). The bluest eye. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  38. Qian, Z., & Cobas, J. A. (2004). Latinos’ mate selection: National origin, racial, and nativity differences. Social Science Research, 33(2), 225–247. doi: 10.1016/s0049-089x(03)00055-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rondilla, J. L., & Spickard, P. R. (2007). Is lighter better?: Skin-tone discrimination among Asian Americans. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  40. Rosario, M. (2009, February 11). Black is beautiful: A celebration of Afro-Latinas. Latina. http://www.latina.com/entertainment/celebrity/black-beautiful-celebration-afro-latinas. Accessed 21 Sept 2011.
  41. Ross, L. E. (2004). Mate selection preferences among African American college students. Journal of Black Studies, 27(4), 554–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Russell, K., Wilson, M., & Hall, R. E. (1993). The color complex: The politics of skin color among African Americans. New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday.Google Scholar
  43. Sarita, S., & Niva, P. (1997). Skin-color preferences and body satisfaction among South Asian-Canadian and European-Canadian female university students. Journal of Social Psychology, 137(2), 161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stephens, D. P., & Few, A. L. (2007). The effects of images of African American women in hip hop on early adolescents’ attitudes toward physical attractiveness and interpersonal relationships. Sex Roles, 56(3–4), 251–264. doi: 10.1007/s11199-006-9145-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Telzer, E. H., & Garcia, H. A. V. (2009). Skin color and self-perceptions of immigrant and US-born Latinas: The moderating role of racial socialization and ethnic identity. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 31(3), 357–374. doi: 10.1177/0739986309336913.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Thiyagarajah, N. [Director], Han, B., McAdams, L., Rider, D., & Rodrigues, V. (2010). Shadeism [Film][20:10]. Toronto, Canada.Google Scholar
  47. U.S. Bureau of the Census/Population Division. (2010). The black population alone in the United States: 2010 detailed tables. Race data. Accessed 27 Sept 2011.Google Scholar
  48. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1999). Mental health: A report of the surgeon general. Rockville: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health.Google Scholar
  49. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, P. H. S, Office of the Surgeon General. (2001). Mental health: Culture, race, and ethnicity—A supplement to mental health: A report of the Surgeon General (p. 203). Rockville: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
  50. Uhlmann, E., Dasgupta, N., Elgueta, A., Greenwald, A. G., & Swanson, J. (2002). Subgroup prejudice based on skin color among hispanics in the United States and Latin America. Social Cognition, 20(3), 198–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Viglione, J., Hannon, L., & DeFina, R. (2011). The impact of light skin on prison time for black female offenders. The Social Science Journal, 48(1), 250–258. doi: 10.1016/j.soscij.2010.08.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wade, T. J., & Sara, B. (2005). The differential effect of skin color on attractiveness, personality evaluations, and perceived life success of African Americans. Journal of Black Psychology, 32(3), 215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wilder, J., & Cain, C. (2011). Teaching and learning color consciousness in black families: Exploring family processes and women’s experiences with colorism. Journal of Family Issues, 32(5), 577–604. doi: 10.1177/0192513x10390858.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations