Actual/Ideal body images of high school girls and how it affects their self-esteem: Implications for educational and clinical institutions

Year: 2005

Author: Ha, My Trinh, Marsh, Herb, Halse, Chris

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Given that adolescence is a critical period for the development of a positive self-concept and body image, it is imperative that educators have an understanding of adolescent students' body image and their dieting practises and behaviours. Negative body image is an issue that is rife within the adolescent student population in Australia and around the world, and is a factor that is commonly associated with and linked to disturbed eating behaviours and chronic eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa (AN). Despite the intuitive appeal and importance of investigating adolescents' body image in terms of what adolescents would like to look like and what they think that they look like now, very little research has investigated these concepts. Furthermore, very little research has explored whether there is a difference between these two constructs how this may affect adolescents' self-esteem. This study therefore aimed to explore the actual and ideal body images of adolescent high school girls aged between 12 and 18 years in two samples of adolescents, one with eating disorders (n=76, clinical sample) and one without (n=823 high school sample). Additionally, this study investigates these constructs in relation to self-esteem levels. The results of this study have important implications for educators and clinicians within educational and clinical settings.