Hispanic Body Images
KEISHA-GAYE N. O'GARO
In this brief chapter we discuss ideas and evidence regarding Hispanic body images, a fast-growing area of research. Weight-related Hispanic body image has been studied more extensively because of its relationship to eating disorders. However, general appearance body image has been studied to some extent, as has the construct of acculturation in relation to body image. We present a working framework for understanding the issues and research that will emerge over the next decade.
In the United States, the term "Hispanic" is used to refer to groups with backgrounds ranging from South America to the Caribbean. Although there may be some generalities about Hispanic culture, each national group is unique. Indeed, the term "Hispanic" is not universally accepted; many prefer the term "Latino" or "Latina" (for females). The primary comparison group for studies in the United States is referred to as white, Caucasian, European American, or Anglo. We use all these terms in this chapter, depending on the language that authors used in describing their study populations. The concepts and research presented in this chapter are largely based on U.S. literature and are intended to be helpful in understanding Hispanic American body image. Most research compares Hispanic Americans to European Americans. One could describe Hispanic body image as a construct on its own terms. For a more detailed review of body image in Latin American countries, the interested reader may want to consult the Spanish language psychological literature.