Rona Carter, Associate Professor of Psychology

Every Body is Great Body: Body Positivity and Puberty

Living in a female body, a disabled body, an aging body, a fat body, a body with mental illness is to awaken daily to a world that expects a certain set of apologies to already live on our tongues. There is a level of “not enough’ or ‘too much’ sewn into these strands of difference. For girls, the expectation for apology begins during the pubertal transition when the ratio of body fat to muscle increase and the body’s basal metabolism rate drops about 15% (a person’s weight is partly dependent on this rate). Girls’ diverging physical appearances cue increased pressures from peers and adults in their social environment to conform to an ideal body shape that often is unrealistically thin. Culture, particularly racial and ethnic background, can play an integral role in body satisfaction in girls.  In this talk, I will discuss how conceptions of girls’ body ideal around the time of the pubertal transition are increasingly divided along the lines of gender and culture and the norms and expectations associated with the concept of gender. I will also discuss how girls can navigate these identity-related cultural messages that attribute meaning to their changing bodies in a way that transforms how they understand and accept their new body.

Stream talk here.

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