Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 179-191

First online:

Body Dissatisfaction and Physical Development Among Ethnic Minority Adolescents

  • Adrienne NishinaAffiliated withDepartment of Human and Community Development, UC Davis Email author 
  • , Natalie Y. AmmonAffiliated withDepartment of Human Development and Family Sciences, University of Texas
  • , Amy D. BellmoreAffiliated withUniversity of California
  • , Sandra GrahamAffiliated withUniversity of California

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The present study examined the association between body dissatisfaction and adjustment, and the role physical development plays in this association, in an ethnically diverse sample of over 1100 urban, ninth grade boys and girls (M age = 14). More similarities than differences were found across ethnic groups: Caucasian, African American, Latino, Asian, and multiethnic boys reported similar areas of body dissatisfaction, levels of body dissatisfaction, and associations between body dissatisfaction and psychosocial maladjustment. For girls, only mean level differences were found with African American girls reporting lower levels of body dissatisfaction than girls from other ethnic backgrounds. Higher levels of body dissatisfaction predicted more psychological and social maladjustment for both boys and girls. For boys, faster development predicted stronger associations between feeling overweight and peer victimization. Feeling too small only predicted victimization if boys were actually low in physical development. For girls, physical development directly predicted less peer victimization, while perceived faster development predicted more victimization. Thus, it appears that physical development can protect both girls (directly) and boys (buffering against the negative effects of body dissatisfaction) from peer victimization, whereas perceived faster timing of development can exacerbate peer victimization.


body dissatisfaction physical development ethnicity adolescence psychological adjustment peer victimization