Pretty cool study, honestly:
“Rivera found that Latinos he studied were significantly more likely than whites to agree that negative stereotypes commonly used to describe Hispanics applied to them. The result suggested to Rivera that “somewhere in their heads they are making the connection that the stereotype is Latino, I am Latino, and therefore I am the stereotype.”
Hispanics in the study who strongly self-stereotyped were more than three times as likely to be overweight or obese as those who did not. The data suggest that self-stereotypes diminish self-esteem – and therefore the motivation that might have helped them follow a healthier lifestyle.
Rivera says demeaning stereotypes come from many sources. For instance, he says, television and other mass media frequently carry harmful messages, such as Latinos are lazy or Latinos are unintelligent. “And then,” he adds, “there are more subtle ways in conversations and interactions with others. Although people don’t say explicitly ‘you are A, you are B,’ there are ways in which those messages are communicated. It could be teachers. It could be your parents. It could be your friends.”
So how does a person discouraged by stereotypes overcome them? According to Rivera, research suggests that exposure to positive racial and ethnic role models might help. Something else worth trying, he says, could be designing approaches to weight loss that emphasize the person’s positive qualities – as a way to counteract the corrosive effects of prejudice.
“It has been shown that when you remind people what they’re good at, it works to immunize them from the effect of stereotypes,” Rivera says. “It releases their anxieties and allows them to focus on the task before them and perform to their ability.””
It’s almost like these researchers are confirming what we already know about self-esteem, racial prejudice, weight loss and body shaming - If you treat people badly, it’s going to affect their lives.