The relationship between body image, attachment, and race

Amy L Sellers, Tennessee State University


Body image is a facet of self-concept that has been an increasing area of discontent among women in western culture. Approximately half of adult women in America report a negative body image (Cash & Henry, 1995) and body image disturbances have been associated with poor social and emotional functioning (Nezlek, 1999; Rosenstrom et al., 2013), making this a construct that warrants a thorough understanding by psychologists. This study aimed to broaden the understanding of the relationship between body image and adult attachment in Caucasian and African American women. Additionally, the interaction with racial identity was assessed. It was hypothesized that body image would significantly predict avoidant and anxious attachment indices. It was also hypothesized that racial identity would be a significant moderator for African American participants. Body image was represented by five separate dimensions: Appearance Evaluation, Appearance Orientation, Body Areas Satisfaction, Overweight Preoccupation, and Self-Classified Weight. All five dimensions were measured by the Multidimensional Body-Self Relation Questionnaire- Appearance Scale (MBSRQ-AS; Cash, 2000). These values were compared through multiple regressions to attachment measurements. Attachment represented two separate dependent variables, attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety, which were measured by the Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised (ECR-R; Fraley, Waller, & Brennan, 2000). Racial identity was measured using the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (MIBI; Sellers, Rowley, Chavous, Shelton, & Smith, 1997). All of the hypotheses were partially supported. Results showed that for Caucasian women overweight preoccupation predicted anxious and avoidant attachment. Appearance orientation also predicted avoidant attachment. For African American women all five dimensions of body image were able to significantly predict anxious attachment. Additionally, appearance evaluation, appearance orientation, and self-classified weight were able to predict avoidant attachment. Racial identity was not found to be a moderator in the sample of Caucasian women. However, racial identity was identified as a significant moderator of body image in African American women. The results presented in this study elucidated the interconnectedness between body image and attachment as well as highlighted interactions between racial identity and body image among African Americans, making the need for further research clear.

Subject Area

Mental health|Clinical psychology|Personality psychology|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Amy L Sellers, "The relationship between body image, attachment, and race" (2015). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3723721.