Body Dissatisfaction at Puberty
December 5, 2011 § 32 Comments
Almost everyone will agree that puberty is a tumultuous time, rich in contradictions and budding possibilities. Body image is a big issue with most children moving into puberty since it involves body changes and normal weight gain, especially fat. Normal fat functions to keep the body warm and to fuel future growth and endocrine function. However, most teens perceive this normal weight gain as something negative, which has led some into eating disorders and the onset of body dissatisfaction.
Generally speaking, body dissatisfaction involves the beliefs, feelings, and perceptions a woman holds about her body in relationship to the current trending cultural ideal of beauty in the Western world, being underweight. Researchers have identified three stages in a woman’s lifespan where body dissatisfaction peaks: puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. These life stages seem to be more vulnerable because they each involve physiological changes in the body.
Historically, body size and body curves began to shrink in the Western world in the late 1960′s, as beauty became equated with thinness. Studies have since found that the gap between actual weight and ideal weight has continued to widen up until the present time, with obesity becoming epidemic. Being underweight is still the ideal, so when a teenage girl gains normal weight during puberty, it can be the trigger that leads to a temporary state of body dissatisfaction or the beginning of a lifetime of body dissatisfaction. Other factors involved include peer pressure and an individual’s emotional and physical rate of maturation.
If you are a woman, did you experience body dissatisfaction in the teen years? If you have daughters, have you noticed any signs of body dissatisfaction? If so, have you found ways to counter the current cultural ideal of striving to stay underweight?