“You don’t belong here”: Exploring how environmental microaggressions shape romantic expectations through photostory



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This research project engaged student members of the community through the use of PhotoStory. A method of creating qualitative research, PhotoStory includes the participation of research subjects as collectors, analyzers, and creators of data. Sample members delve into the research process as co-researchers through taking pictures of the research phenomena as defined by them and narrating the photo. PhotoStory as a process allows individual sample members and whole communities to tell their own stories and express what is meaningful to them. The interviews allow the principal researcher to see through the eyes of the student sample members and begin to understand the phenomena as it is experienced by the students themselves. Environmental microaggressions are defined in the microaggression literature but claim meaning beyond the scholarly interpretations. This project explored how environmental microaggressions were interpreted and experienced by the student co-researchers through their Photo Stories. Five major themes were found during the analysis of the interview and photo stories. Previous research findings in regards to microaggressions and their effects were supported by the themes described in this study. Moreover, this study adds to the current literature surrounding microaggressions and minority stress theories by centering romantic relationship expectations.



Environmental microaggressions, Photostory, Photostudy, Participant action research, People of color, Women of color, Body image, Self-worth, Self-esteem, Societal messages, Standards of beauty