This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

36-24-36: The Effect of Listening to Rap Lyrics that Promote the Curvy Ideal on Black Women’s Body Image Dissatisfaction




Scott, April

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


Body image dissatisfaction (BID) has been linked to a number of concerns such as low self-esteem, disordered eating, anxiety and depression. Mainstream media has been identified as one of the biggest culprits in the transmission of unrealistic body ideals to women because these media sources frequently promote a thin, slim body type, known as the thin-ideal; however, this body type is not always perceived as desirable among Black men and women. This study investigated the effect of exposing Black women to rap lyrics that promote the curvy ideal on their level of body image dissatisfaction. In order to examine the links between the variables of interest, a sample size of 96 Black women between the ages of 18 and 34 completed a demographic questionnaire and a state-based body image rating scale before exposure to audio of three rap songs with high levels of curvy ideal content or audio of neutral rap songs that did not reference body ideals. After exposure, participants completed the same state-based measure of body image dissatisfaction as was completed pre-exposure to song lyrics, a trait-based measure of body image dissatisfaction and a figure rating scale. A between-subjects design was used to compare the mean scores from both groups to detect a change in scores. From the analyses, pre-exposure BID scores explained variance in post-exposure BID and a significant interaction was found between ethnic identity and exposure to curvy ideal song lyrics but only for the state-based measure, the Visual Analog Scale (VAS). This effect was only detected for participants who passed the attention checks. As ethnic identity increased so did levels of BID for those in the curvy ideal song group. These findings suggest that ethnic identity may act as a risk factor for Black women when they are exposed to ideals consistent with Black culture and that more research is needed on variables that influence BID and the factors, if any, that buffer Black women from the dangerous effects of exposure to unrealistic, but culturally relevant, body ideals.