Body Image in Early Adolescence

Sammanfattning: This thesis deals with body image during a period in life marked by rapid physical and psychological change ? early adolescence. Two empirical studies on early adolescents? body esteem, a concept referring to the self-evaluative dimension of body image, are presented. Several studies show that adolescents who have been targets of appearance teasing, perpetrated by peers or family members, often display body dissatisfaction. The main goal of Study I was to extend those findings by examining whether a wider range of peer victimization experiences was related to different dimensions of early adolescents? body satisfaction. Participants in Study I were 960 Swedish 10-year-olds, 515 girls and 445 boys. Principal results showed that early adolescents that had experienced being excluded from social groups were less satisfied with their bodies in all dimensions, that is, they were less satisfied with their appearance in general and with their weight. They were also less confident in terms of their beliefs about how others perceive and evaluate their appearance. The objective of Study II was to add to the rather scarce literature providing longitudinal data on early adolescents? body image. Participants in Study II were 874 (474 girls, 400 boys) of the 960 participants that took part in Study I, 13 years old at the time of the second study. Study II had two primary aims. The first was to examine a set of longitudinal predictors on different aspects of body satisfaction at age 13. The second aim was to describe two groups of participants, that is, participants becoming increasingly satisfied and participants becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their body and appearance between age 10 and 13. Principal results were that both boys? and girls? body satisfaction decreased significantly between age 10 and 13. Body mass and perceiving oneself as being too fat at age 10 were associated with less body satisfaction at age 13. Experiences of frequent teasing predicted less satisfaction with weight for girls, and boys? more negative beliefs about what others think about one?s appearance three years later. Boys were most likely to have become more satisfied at age 13, whereas girls and children engaging in dieting at age 10 were more likely to have become even more dissatisfied. Findings in Study I and Study II together suggest that the peer context might be important for early adolescents? subjective evaluations of their own physical appearance. Further, early adolescence appears to be a period when both young girls? and boys? views of themselves and their bodies might become more self-critical.

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