Unearthing Beauty Ideals: The Relationship Between Skin Colour, Body Esteem, Self Esteem and Sexual Self Esteem – A Gender Comparison

Beauty is a concept that is abstract and subjective to the internalised norms of an .individual’s society; relative to a number of social and cultural factors. This immediate study highlighted the salience of skin colour as a fundamental element of beauty, especially in the Western Hemisphere. The study sought to establish perceived ideal skin colour, perceived ideal skin colour, perceived actual skin colour, body, sexual and self-esteem. An eclectic theoretical approach is proposed as an explanatory frame where the idealization of and adjustment to mid-ranged skin complexions might be related to colourism, social representations, social affirmation, social learning, psychosocial development and identity due to creolization and to socialization. A mixed methods approach was used to collect the data from a convenient sample of 132 males and females in Kingston. A semi-structured interview used to ascertain participants feelings and perceptions about various skin tones which was assessed using content analysis. Three standardises scales were used to asses participants body, sexual and self-esteem. The findings indicated that participants predominantly idealize mid toned skin colours, which was justified by various media influences. Factors such as social learning, social support/influence, colourism, social identity and social representations explained the main findings. Majority of the participants had positive esteem scores, however individuals with middle toned skin colours had the highest scores. The findings were discussed in light of pertinent literature. The findings of the study have implications for identity formation, and psychological well-being of adults. Recommendations were made for attaining and maintain psychological well-being.

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