Stay out of the Sun: Exploring African American College Women’s Thoughts on the Dynamics Between Colorism and Sun-related Behavior

Hsin Yu Chen, Nina G. Jablonski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Colorism—systematic intragroup discrimination based on skin color—uniquely affects African American women. Using a sequential mixed methods design, this study explored perceptions of colorism and sun-related behavior among African American women in college. Study 1, which included 14 in-depth interviews, revealed perceptions that lighter skin is mostly preferred among African American women and that this preference can influence sun-related behavior. Study 2 featured a self-administered questionnaire (n = 187) based on interview commentary. Findings indicated an internalized status quo: Participants deemed colorism prevalent among African Americans and believed that preferences for lighter skin influenced daily life, including sun avoidance. Personal skin color preferences were less clear than participants’ perceptions of others’ preferences. Results pinpointed a possible connection between colorism and sun-related behavior, unveiling interrelationships among internalized beliefs, subjective norms, and behavior. Understanding colorism’s entrenched role and the social context of sun-related decisions extends colorism research from the psychosocial realm to the behavioral. Implications can increase practitioners’ awareness of colorism, enabling interventions to promote appropriate health education and wellbeing among African American women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-560
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Black Psychology
Volume49
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Applied Psychology

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