The "second skin": perceptions of disturbed and nondisturbed early adolescents on clothing, self-concept, and body image

Adolescence. Summer 1989;24(94):411-20.


The purpose of this investigation was to determine if there were differences between regular education and emotionally disturbed early adolescents with respect to self-concept, body image, and selected uses of clothing. A questionnaire was administered to 74 regular education students from three middle schools. An additional 27 students labeled emotionally disturbed were surveyed from one of the schools. The questionnaire contained existing measures of self-concept and body cathexis and a revised clothing scale developed by the authors. Analysis of the data using t tests revealed significant differences between the groups with regard to self-concept and body image. In both cases, regular education students perceived themselves more positively than did those labeled emotionally disturbed. Factor analysis of the clothing-use measure gave rise to five distinct factors, one of which revealed a significant difference between the groups when analyzed by t tests. This factor, "dependence," examined the emotional effects of the use of clothing on individuals, such as the ability to influence mood. The emotionally disturbed students were less likely to use clothing to influence mood than were the regular education students. The results of this investigation lend further credence to the importance of self-concept in the education curriculum, and imply that the usual aspects of the curriculum that deal with self-concept may be served better by helping the individual become more realistic and self-accepting. The use of clothing as a tool to enhance self-concept merits further investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology*
  • Body Image*
  • Clothing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Development*
  • Personality Tests
  • Psychometrics
  • Self Concept*