Perceived Gender Role Prescriptions in Schools, the Superwoman Ideal, and Disordered Eating Among Adolescent Girls
In this study of 866 adolescent girls from US private schools we examined disordered eating. Based on the feminist theory of conflicting gender roles, we hypothesized that girls with greater disordered eating attitudes would be more likely to: (1) perceive more conflicting gender role prescriptions at school, and (2) endorse the superwoman ideal. We also predicted that the mechanism through which perceptions of conflicting gender role prescriptions at school influenced disordered eating was an individual’s endorsement of the superwoman ideal. The data supported this mediation model. Girls with perceptions of more intense behavioral prescriptions for excellence in academics, appearance, dating, and the androgynous gender role, tended to endorse the superwoman ideal which, in turn, was associated with greater disordered eating.