Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 439–450 | Cite as

Physical attractiveness as a mediator of the impact of early pubertal changes for girls

  • David F. Zakin
  • Dale A. Blyth
  • Roberta G. Simmons


The present study examined the effects of early pubertal development and physical attractiveness on the popularity, body image, and self-esteem of over 200 sixth-grade girls. Two rival hypotheses were explored. The first suggests that physically attractive girls, because of their more favorable social environment, will exhibit fewer psychosocial difficulties than unattractive girls during pubertal development. The second hypothesis argues that attractive girls will exhibit greater difficulty during pubertal transition because their self-image is more intimately connected with their physical appearance. Although there were no significant interactions between attractiveness and pubertal development for either popularity or body image, the second hypothesis was supported with respect to self-esteem. Specifically, developing attractive girls exhibited lower self-esteem than their unattractive counterparts. The results are discussed in terms of the relative vulnerability to bodily changes of girls differing in physical attractiveness.


Significant Interaction Health Psychology Body Image Social Environment School Psychology 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • David F. Zakin
    • 1
  • Dale A. Blyth
    • 2
  • Roberta G. Simmons
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyOhio State UniversityUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of MinnesotaUSA

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