Affiliations: Technical University Braunschweig, Germany
Note:  Address for correspondence: Meike Watzlawik, Technical University Braunschweig, Department of Developmental Psychology, Spielmannstr. 19, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: Physical changes that occur during puberty alter the body image. Girls formerly had more difficulties accepting physical changes than boys. In this longitudinal study (three family visits; time interval: 1 year), pubertal development, body satisfaction, and desired body changes of 106 boys and 108 girls were assessed. The adolescents were between 10 and 12 years of age at the time of the first visit. We examined whether—with progressing pubertal development—a stronger increase in body dissatisfaction could still be found for girls than for boys. This was questioned because of the changing male ideal of beauty. Results show that girls are still more often dissatisfied with their bodies and that their body satisfaction even decreases significantly over time. Only by the time of the second interview did gender differences in desired body changes become significant, showing that boys and girls both have certain idealistic visions of how they would like to look. These ideals seem to be more fed by peer-group comparisons than by comparing oneself to the existing ideals of beauty. Nevertheless, girls are still more negatively affected by societal norms than boys. For girls alone, pubertal status predicts body satisfaction and the wish for bodily changes. For boys, other predictors seem to be crucial.
Keywords: puberty, body image, body satisfaction, body changes, adolescence