Skin Color and Self-Perceptions of Immigrant and U.S.-Born Latinas:The Moderating Role of Racial Socialization and Ethnic Identity
AbstractResearch has increasingly identified race as a salient characteristic that affects one's life experiences and psychological well-being. However, little is known about how skin color affects the emotional health of Latinos. The present study examined how skin color relates to the self-perceptions of immigrant (N = 26) and U.S.-born (N = 55) Latina college women. Results indicate that immigrant Latina participants with darker skin tend to have poorer self-perceptions than their U.S.-born peers, including lower self-esteem, lower feelings of attractiveness, and a desire to change their skin color to be lighter. Both racial socialization and ethnic identity served to buffer Latinas from the negative self-perceptions associated with darker skin. These findings suggest that skin color may be a particularly central risk factor for immigrant Latinas' well-being, and racial socialization and ethnic identity may serve as important protective factors.