Adolescence is a period comprising the age range of 10 to 19 years old, during which several psychological, social, and morphological changes occur. Body image is a construct that is complicated to grasp, yet as previous statistics have shown, can have an enormous impact on the everyday life of adolescents. An individual’s body image is constantly evolving due to many circumstances, such as changes in the actual physical attributes of the body as in the case of aging or weight gain, evolving cultural standards of beauty, media exposure, as well as many other influences.
Hence, it needs constant research. One important aspect of body image is body satisfaction. Research on human aggression has great value considering the adverse consequences of aggressive behavior. Stories about wars, gang violence, domestic violence, and terrorist attacks, among others, illuminate the detrimental effects of aggressive behavior on human psychosocial functioning. Aggression appears to be a collective part of the human condition in that it has been observed in people of all ages, cultures, educational levels, and socioeconomic backgrounds (Eagly& Steffen, 1986).
Until the end of the XIXth century, bodily awareness was conceived as a bundle of internal bodily sensations. In 1905 Bonnier first introduced the term “schema” to refer to their spatial organization. Since then, almost all neurologists have agreed on the existence of mental representations of the body, often called body schema or body image (or both at the same time). However, there has been widespread confusion about the nature and the properties of these notions (Gallagher, 1986).
And this is not surprising, given the variety of ways we have of relating to our bodies (e.g., through touch, vision, proprioception, motor behavior, semantic understanding, emotional affect, etc.) and the variety of disorders of bodily awareness.
Schemas are cognitive generalizations that one develops about oneself and which facilitate the organization and processing of self-related information (Jung & Lee, 2006; Jung & Lennon, 2003; H. Markus, 1977). Appearance schemas are psychological structures that people use to process self-related information about their appearance (Cash, Melnyk, & Hrabosky, 2003). In other words, appearance schemas are beliefs that one has about their body. Body size, shape, weight, and investment in one’s appearance (examples of cognitive structures) all contribute to one’s overall body image perception. While all humans develop appearance-related schemas, the importance of appearance is more highly developed in some individuals identified as “appearance-schematic” (Labarge, Cash, & Brown, 1998). Appearance-schematic individuals develop more elaborate appearance schemas in which their body image becomes the foundation of self-evaluation (Tiggemann, 2005).
Therefore, the physical self becomes integral to an appearance-schematic individual’s self-concept and feelings of worth as a person (Tiggemann, Hargreaves, Polivy & McFarlane, 2004). In regards to appearance schematics, Cash and colleagues (2004) stated, “More clearly dysfunctional is an investment in beliefs that equate one’s appearance, its comparison with others, and its potential to affect one’s life as integral to one’s self-worth” (p. 314). In other words, the authors proposed it is dysfunctional and maladaptive when an individual becomes so highly invested in their physical appearance that it becomes the basis of their global self-worth or self-esteem. Cash (2002) posited self-esteem can be a significant personality factor that influences one’s body image attitude, whereas a “positive self-concept may facilitate the development of a positive evaluation of one’s body and serve as a buffer against events that threaten one’s body image” (p. 41).
Within the realm of body image, appearance schemas are cognitive of body image that refer to an aspect of the self-concept, where the self is represented in terms of appearance (Cash, 2005). Due to the evaluative, emotional, and regulatory effects of appearance schemas, they become a crucial part of understanding how one experiences body image in everyday life (Cash, Melnyk, et al., 2004), especially where it concerns the importance of meaning placed on appearance (Cash & Labarge, 1996). Cash et al. (2004) argue that these appearance schemas are central to interpreting experiences, such as how individuals may view their body in the environment, and how they interpret others’ views of their body. Further, individuals’ appearance schemas can be negative or positive. Negative appearance schemas may include thoughts indicating an excessive awareness of and emphasis on one’s appearance whereas positive appearance schemas may include thoughts reflecting acceptance and appreciation of one’s body
Within the category of appearance-related commentary, there are even different types that seem to have distinct meanings and implications. Compliments about a physical attribute can be interpreted in a positive manner and enhance body image. On the contrary, appearance-related teasing and criticism have a negative connotation and seem to contribute to poor body image (Thompson et al., 1999). Interestingly, positive appearance-related commentary has also been associated with levels of distress that are similar to the negative appearance-related commentary (Herbozo & Thompson, 2006a, 2006b). In regards to less explicit appearance-related feedback, the meaning of ambiguous comments and subtle body language is not always as evident.
Many men and women are at war with their bodies. Thin is in and fat is out. Not only is thin in, but the appearance of an almost emaciated thin body for women and a considerably large muscular body for men is considered the norm. A large population of men and women are feeling the pressures to look a certain way and to achieve the perfect body (Cash & Smolak, 2012, p. 208). People trying to meet these ideals of the perfect body may do so by any means necessary, even if that means starving their bodies, or binging and purging and following strict nutrition regimens (Cash & Smolak, 2012, p. 291).
Body image has been described as the psychology of one’s body, something Cash (1990) characterized as an “inside perception” (p.53). Body image refers to the feelings, perceptions, emotions, and beliefs about our bodies, the way we see and feel about our bodies (Cash, 1990).
Young children are very susceptible to the influences surrounding them; this directly affects their attitudes and concepts of themselves (Feldman, Feldman & Goodman, 1988). According to Feldman et al., adolescents and children are growing up in a socio-cultural atmosphere that glorifies thinness, while the mass media promote a thin body ideal. Parents may expose their children to concepts concerning body image and eating attitudes, while peers judge and tease in regard to body shape and weight. (Feldman, et al., 1988; Pike & Rodin, 1991; Oliver & Thelen, 1996). Undoubtedly, exposure to unhealthy messages concerning body shape and eating practices may influence a young child’s behaviors (Feldman, Feldman & Goodman, 1988). An individual’s negative body image has been an underlying force in the understanding of eating disorders (Garner, 1991).
All teens are concerned about how they look. They want to be attractive and they want to fit in with others. Meeting society’s standards for looking good is not always easy, especially for girls. Girls are judged by their appearance more than boys, and the standards are high (Enotes, 2010). Physical attractiveness in females is based on pretty features, a good complexion, nice hair, and a well-proportioned body. Today, however, “well-proportioned” is popularly interpreted to mean “thin.” As a result, many teenage girls are unhappy with their bodies. This is especially true of those who, because of pressures or problems in their own lives, become fixated on body image as a way of achieving success or happiness (Enotes, 2010).
Adolescence marks a time of rapid and intense emotional and physical changes. During adolescence, there is tremendous pressure placed on the value of peer acceptance and peer approval. It is a time of heightened awareness to external influences and social messages about cultural norms. During this developmental phase, as youths begin to focus more on their physical appearance, body image and related self-concepts emerge as significant factors associated with health and well-being. The media strongly influences how adolescents formulate and define their body image ideals and subsequent self-comparisons (National Association of Social Workers, 2010).
One particular model of body image that integrates sociocultural factors is the tripartite influence model of body image and eating disturbance (Thompson et al., 1999b). Specifically, this model suggests peers, parents and media influence the development of body image and eating disturbance. This model has primarily been applied to Caucasian samples (e.g., Shroff & Thompson, 2006; Smolak, Murnen, & Thompson, 2005).
Aggression can come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, over 200 different definitions of aggressive behavior have been documented in the research literature (Underwood et al., 2001) Noxious behavior in which the target person is attacked not physically or directly through verbal intimation but in a circuitous way, through social manipulation (Kaukiainen et al., 1999). Indirect aggression, relational aggression and social aggression all involve social relationships between individuals, whether casual or close in nature, and can be distinguished from direct, physical aggression because they have different goals and are achieved in a different way (Archer & Coyne, 2005). In all three, the aggressor has a need for a sense of control and a willingness to inflict pain on an individual in order to manipulate the individual’s relationships in a negative way (Gomes, 2007).
Archer and Coyne (2005) described indirect aggression as a low-cost way of inflicting harm. Indirect aggression is preferred over direct aggression because the aggressors have a desire to be in the best social group and stay there by obtaining social power. They have a desire to control others. There are small costs for this behavior since it is harder to detect or observe than overt behaviors. Indirect or covert aggression usually does not appear until later in childhood when verbal and social skills develop well enough to manipulate peers (Coyne & Whitehead, 2008; Gomes, 2007). Research has shown that adolescent girls who use indirect social aggression experience less maladjustment than girls who use physical violence; boys who use gender-normed or physical aggression are also more adjusted (Bagner, Storch, & Preston, 2007; Coyne et aI., 2008).
Cross-sectional studies have reported that older children use IA more than younger children (Bjorkqvist et al., 1992; Bjorkqvist et al., 1992; Cairns, Cairns, Neckerman, Ferguson, & Gari?py, 1989b; Osterman et al., 1998) and longitudinal studies of the stability of IA have shown that, on average, its use increases with age in childhood and into adolescence (Cairns, Cairns, Neckerman, Ferguson, & Gariepy, 1989a; al., 2007; Underwood et al., 2009; Vaillancourt, Miller, Fagbemi, Tremblay, 2007). With a view of understanding whether groups or clusters of children change similarly over time (Nagin, 2005), group-based trajectory studies have been employed. These studies suggest that IA starts in early childhood and that most (55-68% of children) continue to use low levels of indirect aggression while others, depending on the final age studied, exhibit high-increasing levels (32-35%) in later childhood and high-declining levels in early adolescence (45%) (C?t? et al., 2007; Underwood et al., 2009; Vaillancourt et al., 2007).
Murray Close and colleagues (2007) found that, for both boys and girls, increases in children’s relational aggression trajectories were associated with increases in internalizing (anxiety and depression) problems over a one-year period. Vaillancourt and Hymel (2006) found that high IA was connected to higher perceived popularity (Vaillancourt & Hymel, 2006). This has led researchers to posit that IA in childhood and adolescence is associated with both adjustment and maladjustment (Smith, 2007; Vaughn & Santos, 2007). For example, one study called IA in high school a ‘double-edged sword,’ particularly for females because high levels of IA was associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms but higher levels of workplace victimization in emerging adulthood (Sandstrom & Cillessen, 2010)
There have been inconsistencies in reports of sex differences in the development of IA, with some studies finding more girls than boys exhibiting high IA behaviors (Bjorkqvist et al., 1992; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Crick et al., 1997; Lagerspetz et al., 1988; Osterman et al., 1998; Salmivalli, Kaukiainen, & Lagerspetz, 2000) while others report no sex differences (Coyne, Archer, & Eslea, 2006; Galen & Underwood, 1997; Osterman et al., 1998). Variations in the size and direction of sex differences may be partly due to differences in age, method of measurement, informant, and the sample included in the studies (Archer & C?t?, 2005; Archer & Coyne, 2005). Recent group-based trajectory approaches to analyzing clusters of IA groups have found that children of both sexes use low levels of IA, however, more girls are in the high or increasing indirectly aggressive groups compared to boys (C?t? et al., 2007; Salmivalli & Kaukiainen, 2004; Vaillancourt et al., 2007).
There have been few published longitudinal studies on the association between IA and adjustment in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood (Heilbron and Prinstein, 2008). Research to date has shown that indirect aggression is associated with both positive and negative adjustment in childhood and adolescence, particularly as it relates to peer relationships and popularity. Among the negative outcomes, indirectly aggressive behavior is associated with an increased risk of peer rejection and decreased peer acceptance, lower perceived popularity, fewer friends, and an increase in relationally aggressive peer relationships in both cross-sectional (Prinstein & Cillessen, 2003; Werner & Crick, 2004). Indirectly aggressive behavior has also been associated with psychopathology – in particular, increased levels of symptoms of borderline personality disorder increased internalizing symptoms (e.g., anxious-depressive symptoms) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in cross-sectional (Sebanc, 2003; Zalecki & Hinshaw, 2004).
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