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Body-Image: A source of Low Self-esteem in Adolescents


Definitions / Importance
Obtaining Self-esteem
Data / Studies
Resources / Links

Morrison and Morrison
Siqueira and Diaz
Dohnt and Tiggerman
THe National Association of Social Workers

Morrison and Morrison

The first study reviewed was conducted by Todd Morrison and Melanie Morrison. Their study, Body-Image Evaluation and Body-Image Investment among Adolescents: A test of social Comparison Theories, hypothesized that greater exposure to the idealistic body representation is associated with either a) less favorable body-image evaluation; b) higher level of body investment, with results differing based on sociocultural theory and social comparison theory. Morrison and Morrison utilized an appearance self-esteem scale that was distributed to twenty-five hundred students at eight high schools. The results of their study indicate that from a social comparison perspective, adolescent females who reported greater exposure to magazine and mass media possessed lower levels of appearance self-esteem (Adolescence, 2004).

Sequeira and Diaz

Fostering Resilience in Adolescent Females describes the findings of a survey conducted by Lorena Siqueira, M.D., and Angela Diaz, M.D. This extraordinary survey indicates that the current trend of slender physique has contributed to high risk factors among teenagers, especially among females. The high risk behaviors include dieting, which results in the loss of essential vitamins, proteins, and minerals leading to slower growth rate and delayed maturation. This survey indicates that depressive symptoms were exhibited by one in four adolescent females, and health and self-confidence rating decreased among one in every four female adolescents. Thoughts of suicide appeared to be the norm among those surveyed. The purpose of this survey was to provide an education piece for other professionals in order to increase the self-efficacy among adolescent females and increase their ability to resist peer pressure (2004). Understanding the precursors to the development of risk factors, recognizing the extreme pressure placed on young girls to fit the slender role model, and providing intervention whenever appropriate cannot be over emphasized.

Dohnt and Tiggerman
In 2006, Hayley Dohnt and Marika Tiggerman produced a prospective study aimed at examining the role of peer and media influences in the development of body satisfaction. Their study, The Contribution of Peer and Media Influences to the Development of Satisfaction and Self-Esteem in Young Girls, found that as early as school entry, girls appear to already live in a culture in which peers and the media transmit the thin ideal in a way that already influences the development of body image and self-esteem.

The National Association of Social Workers

The National Association of Social Workers published in Adolescent Health an enlightening article entitled Adolescent Girls and Body Image. This  article suggests that adolescents formulate and define their body image based on social influences, with media promoting very specific standards of attractiveness that contradicts good health practices. Women’s magazines have 10.5 times more information promoting weight loss. The article stipulates that many adolescent girls believe their appearance is a major part of their self-esteem and that their body image is a major sense of self. Body dissatisfaction can lead to poor health habits, low self-esteem, and can also contribute to depression, anxiety and eating disorders (2001).