Oluwatosin Opeoluwa, Prairie View A&M University

Microaggressions: Body Shaming at HBCUs

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to explore the prevalence of distress caused by incidents of body shaming microaggressions among students attending a regional HBCU. Body shaming microaggression is the overt or covert microinsult or micro assault experienced in relation to individual’s body size, shape, skin color, body piercing, tattoo, facial features, height or weight which in turn detrimentally impact their persona and distressed their success capability. While studies relating to microaggressions in college students in general exist, little research has been conducted at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Data were collected using an IRB approved mixed method survey consisting of open-ended and structured questions which was sent out to 8473 undergraduates over the age of 18 via campus email. The total number of respondents was 165. We found that 97 percent of respondents have been microaggressed due to their body weight and 73 percent experienced microaggression for their body size.

Microaggressions may be subtle, but their impact is real. Respondents indicated real distress. Of those respondents who experienced some form of microaggression, 40 percent also experienced a loss of motivation for success and depression, which impacted their success as students. Anecdotal evidence from the open-ended questions also indicated that microaggressions among LGBT populations were high, indicating a need for further study. Due to the high frequency of body shaming microaggressions on our campus, we recommend seminars on awareness of microaggression and their effect at all HBCUs.

Presentation Author(s):
Opeoluwa Oluwatosin*, Chenette Rene Floore, Faith Alexia Lyons, Dr. Danielle Hairston-Green, Dr. Samuel Sampson, and Dr. Mark Tschaepe

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