Bodily Deviations and Body Image in Adolescence

Runar Vilhjalmsson*, Gudrun Kristjansdottir, Dianne S. Ward

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Adolescents with unusually sized or shaped bodies may experience ridicule, rejection, or exclusion based on their negatively valued bodily characteristics. Such experiences can have negative consequences for a person's image and evaluation of self. This study focuses on the relationship between bodily deviations and body image and is based on a national survey of 3,898 students attending 9th and 10th grade (age 14-16) in the Icelandic school system (92% response rate). Girls had a considerably lower body image than boys. Overweight and heaviness were related to lower body image among both genders. Interactions with gender showed that short stature was negatively related to body image among boys, whereas underweight was positively related to body image among girls. Bodily deviations can have positive implications, as shown by the fact that tall boys and girls had a more positive image of their body than their peers of lower stature. Theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-384
Number of pages19
JournalYouth and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012

Other keywords

  • body image
  • gender
  • height
  • overweight
  • underweight


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