Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 285–300 | Cite as

The effects of delayed menarche in different contexts: Dance and nondance students

  • J. Brooks-Gunn
  • Michelle P. Warren


The premise that effects of maturational timing are mediated by social context is explored by comparing adolescent girls in dance and nondance schools. Because the dance student must maintain a relatively low body weight, being a late maturer (who is often leaner than an on-time maturer) is expected to be more advantageous to the dancer than to the student not required to meet a weight standard. Girls aged 14 to 18 were seen; 276 attended private schools and 69 attended national ballet company schools. AllSs were weighed and measured and asked questions about their secondary sexual development, weight-related concerns, eating concerns, adult sex-role expectancies, body image, emotional functioning, and family relationships. Menarcheal age was used to classify girls as early (before 11.5 years of age), on time (between 11.5 and 14 years), and late maturers (after 14 years). More dance than non-dance school students were late maturers (55% versus 29%). The dance students weighed less and were leaner, had higher eating scores, and had lower family relationship and impulse control scores than the comparison sample. Across groups, late maturing students weighed less, were leaner, and had lower diet and higher oral control scores than on-time maturers, with the differences more pronounced in the dance than nondance students. In addition, the on-time dancers had higher psychopathology, perfection, and bulimia scores and lower body image scores than the late maturing dancers. The findings are discussed in terms of a goodness of fit between the requirements of a social context and a person's physical and behavioral characteristics.


Body Image Late Maturer Control Score Lower Family Relationship Oral Control 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Brooks-Gunn
    • 4
    • 1
  • Michelle P. Warren
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaUSA
  2. 2.Columbia University College of Physicians and SurgeonsUSA
  3. 3.St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital CenterUSA
  4. 4.Educational Testing ServicePrinceton

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