The Development of Body Image in School-Aged Girls: A Review of the Literature from Sociocultural, Social Learning Theory, Psychoanalytic, and Attachment Theory Perspectives

Hannah Knafo


This paper outlines the research that has been conducted on the development of body image in young children, particularly in girls. Beginning with a detailed understanding of the developmental progression of body image, and its relationship to self-concept in early life, this review continues to explore the various theoretical perspectives on how body image and body esteem develop at young ages. The research from attachment theory and other psychoanalytic theories, social learning theory, and sociocultural perspectives are reviewed in detail. The review of this literature explains the multiple influential factors on body image and body satisfaction throughout the lifespan. This paper also highlights the need for more empirical research regarding the influence of early parent-child relationships on the full spectrum of body image dissatisfaction, which has become so prevalent amongst women and girls in Western society.

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