A woman who dresses in black in a formal event may feel more comfortable.
But when her husband comes home dressed in the same outfit, her self-esteem may be damaged.
She may also feel ashamed about her blackness.
It’s a complex dynamic, but it’s a problem that’s not going away anytime soon.
This week, researchers from Harvard Medical School teamed up with the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to explore how black dress can affect women’s self-perception.
The researchers tested a group of women, including one who was black and one who wasn’t, in a range of settings, from the kitchen to a dinner party.
Their results were published online in the Journal of Social Psychology.
“We wanted to understand the reasons why women dress in black, and what people want from them,” said lead author David C. Wittenberg, a PhD student at Harvard Medical’s School of Public Health.
“If you can’t control your own behavior, how do you make your environment a better place for yourself and your partner?”
Black dress is not just about clothing, though.
“People often feel bad about wearing black in public, but they don’t feel bad for wearing black, either,” said Wittenburg, who has previously studied how men and women feel about wearing different clothing styles.
“What we found is that the black dress is a reflection of self-worth, and that self-affirmation is tied to blackness.”
The researchers found that black dress has a strong effect on women’s feelings of self worth.
Black dress can reduce women’s perceived self-confidence, according to the study, which used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
The study participants were asked to rate their self-assessments of their own and others’ blackness on a scale of 0 to 10, ranging from 0 to 5.
Participants rated the level of confidence that other people’s perceived blackness made them feel.
Weren’t you a little bit confident?
Did you feel that you were pretty well-known?
Black dress also affected women’s perceptions of their appearance.
Participants were asked whether they thought their appearance would be more attractive if they wore black dress, compared with if they didn’t.
“Black dress was associated with negative self-belief,” Wittenburk said.
“This was particularly true for women who are more self-conscious about their blackness, such as mothers who dress in the black attire.”
The study also found that when participants thought of themselves as less confident than others, they were more likely to wear black dress.
The research also found a positive effect of black dress on women who felt that their perceived blackiness was a cause of negative self esteem.
Women who were less self-confident felt more likely than women who were more self -conscious to wear Black dress.
“The effect of Black dress on self- esteem and self-reported confidence is not surprising, as Black dress has been shown to increase confidence in self-image and self esteem in women,” the study said.
Witherington and colleagues also found significant differences between men and woman in the way that they dress when they’re on the go.
Women are more likely, for example, to wear a dress that fits and fits well, while men tend to favor a tailored look.
Witherington said the study shows that “black dressing can be very revealing in a way that black people tend to not be,” as it shows women are aware of their black color.
“I think that’s why black people have so much self-acceptance in this country,” Witherton said.
In a society where women often feel less comfortable in public than men, Withersons study shows they have a choice about whether or not to dress up for a date or wedding.
They can dress up with confidence and be confident with their appearance, or they can dress in casual clothing that doesn’t show off their body.
“Our findings suggest that, even if Black dress doesn’t work for you, it may work for someone else,” Witheringson said.