Satisfaction with body image for early adolescent females: The impact of pubertal timing within different school environments

J Youth Adolesc. 1985 Jun;14(3):207-25. doi: 10.1007/BF02090319.

Abstract

During adolescence dramatic physical changes take place which the individual must incorporate into his or her evolving body image. The impact of different school environments on this incorporation process is explored using data on 225 White females from a longitudinal study. Differences in physical characteristics between early, middle, and late developers were assessed each year. The effects of pubertal timing on satisfaction with body image dimensions and self-esteem were then explored for sixth- and seventh-graders within different school environments. Reference group theory was used to examine three alternative hypotheses. Early versus late onset of menarche had different effects on certain aspects of satisfaction with body image, depending on the school environment. Results support the strength of the cultural ideal of thinness for women, but no other hypothesis had consistent support. The findings indicated the need to consider a multiplicity of factors in relation to specific body image dimensions.