Background: This study sought to examine the relationship of negative stereotype attitudes and endorsement of western standards of beauty (i.e., colorism) on the substance use behavior of low-income urban African American girls. Racial socialization was also examined as a potential moderator to identify any buffering effects of parental messages concerning race. Methods: Two hundred seventy-two African American female adolescents (mean age 13.02 years) were recruited from community venues in a Northeastern city. Adolescents completed a self-report questionnaire. Results: Results of a series of hierarchical regression analyses indicated that girls who accepted an African American standard of beauty reported lower levels of substance use than those who endorsed colorism. Additionally, racial socialization buffered the negative relationship of colorism to substance use behavior, but only for a certain subset of girls. Conclusions: Tailored health interventions that consider both gender-specific and race-specific issues may improve risk behaviors, including substance use among adolescent females.
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