Self-compassion as a protective mechanism between sociocultural pressures and disordered eating behaviors in Latina college students


According to the sociocultural model for eating pathology development, young women in the United States receive messages from media, peers, and family that a thin physique is considered beautiful (Stice, 2001). These messages on physical attractiveness and thin beauty ideals may be especially distressing for minority women as they try to navigate differences between their culture of origin and the majority culture (Chin, Evans, & McConnell, 2003). In fact, acculturative stress, the negative psychological influence of adapting to a new culture, has been well-established as a predictor for disordered eating behaviors, body dissatisfaction, and depressive symptoms among minority women (Driscoll & Torres, 2013). This study sought to replicate the sociocultural model for eating pathology with Latina college students and examine self-compassion as a protective mechanism against sociocultural pressures, including acculturative stress. Participants were 148 undergraduate students who attended college at a large university in Texas. Multiple hierarchical linear regression analysis was used to examine main and interaction effects of sociocultural pressure and self-compassion on disordered eating, body image, appearance-motivated exercise, and depressive symptoms for Latina college students. Sociocultural pressure and dimensions of acculturative stress positively predicted disordered eating behaviors. Specifically, language competency pressure, bicultural self-consciousness, and pressure to acculturate positively predicted body image concerns, depressive symptoms, and unhealthy eating and exercise behaviors. Additionally, self-compassion served as a protective mechanism against sociocultural pressures on body image and depressive symptoms. Findings suggest that the sociocultural model for eating pathology can be applied to Latina college students and should include culturally relevant dimensions of social pressure.



Disordered eating, Self-compassion