Asian J Beauty Cosmetol. 2013; 11(4): 641-648.
A Study on the Relationship between Skin-Color and Body Image Satisfaction among Female University Students in Korea
Body image is closely related with self-esteem and quality of life. Individuals with negative body image are more likely to suffer from anxiety, pain, disease and depression. One’s dissatisfaction on his own body image not only concerns people’s body size and shape, but also skin color. The most important substance determining human skin color is the pigment melanin, and skin color of which can darken with the exposure of sun. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the relationship between body image satisfaction and skin color and to identify the difference of sun-protective behavior according to skin color among female university students in Korea. Korean female university students (n=158, aged 19–26) completed a questionnaire with a battery of questions regarding body satisfaction, subjective skin color, ideal skin color, sun protective behavior, and skin care behavior. Satisfaction on body image was measured using the Body Cathexis Scale (BCS). We used Fitzpatrick skin color types (Type I: pale white, light. Type II: white, fair. Type III: medium, white to brown. Type IV: olive, moderate brown. Type V: brown, dark brown. Type VI: very dark brown to black). Among the 158 female students, the order of skin color type frequency was type III (n=107, 67.7%), type II (n=30, 19.0%), type IV (n=18, 11.4%), type I (n =3, 1.9%) and none of the subjects were type V or type VI. There were significant differences in skin satisfaction according to the female college students’ self- reported skin color (p = .001, mean score of type I= 4.33, mean score of type II=3.27, mean score of type III=2.51, and mean score of type IV=2.83). Moreover, there were significant differences in total body image satisfaction by their skin color (p=.003). For sun protection, wearing sunglasses (p=.003) and avoiding outside activities during peak sun hours (p=.025) showed significant difference between skin colors and sun protective behaviors. Our research confirms that the majority of female’s ideal skin color is type I or type II and confirms the association between skin color and body image satisfaction among the female university students in Korea. Females with lighter skin color are more satisfied with their skin and body than females with darker skin color. Also, lighter skinned subjects wore significantly more sunglasses and avoided outside activity during peak sun hours than darker skinned subjects.
Skin color, Ideal skin color, Body image satisfaction, Skin satisfaction, Sun-protective behavior