What is it about?

The influence of Hispanic parental processes on daughters' intimate relationships have been widely studied in the psychology literature. However, although skin color values have been found to directly inform dating preferences, research examining the influence of parental skin color beliefs is non-existent. Thirty-four emerging adult Hispanic women participated in this qualitative study which examined their beliefs about parental skin color beliefs on dating preference decision-making processes. The study revealed that parents encouraged daughters to select partners with lighter skin. Significant differences between the ways parents and daughters constructed skin color meanings were noted, although daughters' potential partner skin color preferences were mixed.

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Why is it important?

Skin color is important to consider when examining identity development, particularly in therapeutic relationships Results indicate that cultural competency training for clinicians should include understandings of meanings and values given to skin color. Therapeutic considerations for addressing skin color concerns with Hispanic female clients, including parental influences, within group differences and validation of skin color values, are addressed.


There is great diversity in skin color within Hispanic populations. Few studies examine these despite its impact on identity, well being and social mobility. It is important to examine this among this age group as it directly influences short and long term relationship development.

Dr. Dionne P Stephens
Florida International University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Ni Pardo, Ni Prieto: The Influence of Parental Skin Color Messaging on Heterosexual Emerging Adult White-Hispanic Women's Dating Beliefs, Women & Therapy, January 2012, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/02703149.2012.634714.
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