Puberty is a developmental process that influences body image and body satisfaction of adolescents. Many physical changes modify the mental representation of own body, and the adolescent have to integrate these changes. This integration could be more difficult for girls. Girls are very concerned about their body shape, the weight and, extremely, the desire of being thin, leads them to engage in weight reduction strategies and behaviours. The study examines body esteem and body representations in two groups of female adolescents (60 eating disorders and 60 normal-weight) aging between 12-17 years (M = 14.8; d.s. = 1.7). Qualitative and quantitative measures were collected. Results indicate eating disorder psychopathology as the factor that influence on body perception; in fact the patients are more dissatisfied then control group. Instead, the presence of eating disorders modify body representations: the clinical group’s drawings show a less accurate definition of body features, fewer details and a lower sexual characterizations than normal-weight’s group. This preliminary results suggest that the importance to use quantitative and qualitative measures to obtain a whole picture of body image perception in adolescence, opening interesting research questions that could be addressed in the future.
Keywords: Body image, puberty, eating disorders, adolescence.