Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

KaMala Thomas

Reader 2

David Moore

Reader 3

Milton Machuca

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2012 Madison L. Noble


The role of mainstream media in women’s views of female beauty and body image has been well documented. However, few published studies have observed ethnic differences in physiological stress reactivity that may occur from pressures to comply with a particular image of beauty. This study examined whether the exposure to the mainstream ideal body image would negatively affect Latina women’s physiological and psychological functioning, and how their responses differed in comparison to their White counterparts. Participants included college-aged female students from Pitzer College who self-identified as Latina or Caucasian. Participants completed questionnaires assessing, body esteem (MSBRQ-AS; SATAQ; CDFRS), ethnic identity (SEE), state anxiety (STAI-State) and affect (PANAS) prior to and following exposure to Victoria’s Secret or Chrysler automobile commercials. Physiological stress reactivity was assessed through changes in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as salivary cortisol. 3-way ANOVA tests indicated a significant 2-way interaction between condition and time on participants’ levels of diastolic blood pressure, F(1, 27) = 4.266, MSe = 29.803, p =.049, η2 =.136, as well as ratings of appearance evaluation, F(1,36) = 5.733, MSe = 3.692, p =.022, η2 =.137, and body satisfaction F(1,36) = 4.27, MSe = 4.747, p = .046, η2 =.106. Women who viewed the Victoria’s Secret commercials demonstrated increased levels of diastolic blood pressure and reported lower ratings of body esteem in comparison to women who viewed the Chevy Sonic commercials. Potential trends in anxiety reactivity and the internalization of mainstream female beauty in Latina women following exposure to the stimuli are further discussed.