Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Larry H. Ebbers


Negative body image is pervasive among traditional, college-age women and takes a heavy toll on women's economic, personal, and political lives. Previous research has indicated that a large percentage of women hold negative views of their body. Women embarking on higher education are not exempt from these negative views. Conversely, college can pose challenges for women as they attempt to negotiate their academic, public, and personal identities.

While existing literature has provided insight regarding body-image issues among traditional-aged college women, little attention has been focused on the protective factors influencing body image. Addressing dissatisfaction with body image and identifying positive protective factors is especially salient for college personnel, given that women of college-age have been noted to be at high risk for social, physical, and mental health issues associated with body image.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how young women come to understand body image and make meaning of their own body image in the college environment. This study also examined the role of protective factors in the formation of young women's body image. Four themes emerged as influential in the participants' lives: relationships with female relatives and peers; media influence; participation in athletics; and relationships with people with disabilities. A new model was developed in this study to explain how young women may potentially come to understand their body image and make meaning of body image in the college environment.


Copyright Owner

Chrystal Ann Stanley



File Format


File Size

147 pages