Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This qualitative study explored the relationship between personal ideals of female beauty, the self perceptions of female beauty, and self esteem in adult women. Most studies that have been conducted on this topic have been quantitative and used college age samples that are still in the process of transitioning into adulthood. The sample for this study consisted of twelve adult women between the ages of 24 and 39. Participants were asked a series of structured demographic background questions followed by more semi-structured and open-ended questions that explored their ideals of female beauty. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (a standardized self-esteem inventory) was also administered. Major findings were that all participants made a distinction between and placed higher value on internal characteristics of ideal female beauty as opposed to physical characteristics of female beauty. Furthermore, participants' ideals of internal characteristics of female beauty were more flexible and mediated by whether the personification of their ideal of female beauty was personally known (e.g. mothers, friends, and colleagues) or not (e.g. celebrities).


iv, 75 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references leaves (63-67).