I'm no jezebel; i am young, gifted, and black: Identity, sexuality, and black girls

Tiffany G. Townsend, Anita Jones Thomas, Torsten B. Neilands, Tiffany R. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Scholars have highlighted the detrimental influence of racially charged stereotypes and images on self-perception and well being. Others have suggested that identity components (e.g., ethnic identity and self-concept) serve a protective function. The purposes of this study were (a) to explore the relationship among stereotypic images, beauty standards that are consistent with "colorism," and identity components of African American girls and (b) to determine the impact of these variables on girls' sexual attitudes. African American girls (N =270) between the ages of 10-15 years old completed a self-report questionnaire, which included a new measure, the Modern Jezebel Scale, that was used to assess stereotypic images. A series of multiple regressions were performed using identity components, stereotypic images, and colorism as independent variables and sexual attitude variables as the outcome. In addition, interaction effects were explored to determine if identity components moderated the influence of stereotypic images and colorism on sexual attitudes. As expected, findings revealed significant positive relationships among stereotypic images, colorism, and sexual risk. In addition, significant interactions were found between identity components and stereotypes. Instead of identity serving as a buffer against the negative effects of societal messages, endorsement of stereotypes and colorism increased sexual risk in the context of identity components. Results suggest that a strong identity may not be enough to reduce sexual risk if girls cannot critically analyze the societal messages that they receive. Implications for prevention efforts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-285
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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