Changes in Real Body Size, Body Size Perception and Dissatisfaction in Adolescent Lithuanian Girls During the Last 15 Years

JANINA TUTKUVIENĖ

Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, Department of Anatomy, Histology and Anthropology, Lithuania

ABSTRACT DESCRIPTION

Body image is a multidimensional construct broadly describing our attitude towards body appearance, in particular, its size, shape and aesthetics. During the last few decades, the „ideal” female’s body was getting slimmer, despite the dramatic increase in prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents. This phenomenon was related to incidence of fatness phobia and body dissatisfaction, in particular, among young adolescent girls. In Lithuania, as in many other countries, unrealistically thin body became a symbol of success for young girls around the year 1995-2000. Nevertheless, during the last decade in Lithuania healthy body size was promoted in mass media, and dangers related to body dissatisfaction were often elucidated by psychiatrists, paediatricians and auxologists. The purpose of present study was to reveal trend in body mass index (BMI), also changes in body size perception and dissatisfaction in older adolescent Lithuanian girls during the period of 2000-2015 y. Present study has revealed that BMI of 16-19 y. old Lithuanian girls had increased during the last 15 years (as in many Western and other countries). Despite this trend, there was the opposite tendency in self-esteem of body size and dissatisfaction among young Lithuanian females nowadays – their opinion about own body size became more positive and more objective in relation to their actual BMI. Hence, changing attitudes towards “ideal” body image at the society and mass media were in parallel with the proper self-esteem of body size in adolescent Lithuanian girls. However, underweight girls remain very problematic with respect to their own body image, and present study has revealed them having slightly more distorted body size perception recently than in the year 2000. It remains unclear, if girls seeking to be thin more often face body dissatisfaction and eating disorders, or they become severe underweight because of their lower self-esteem and fatness phobia.