Behold! My presentation for Friday. Feedback/comments/critiques welcomed and encouraged. It is a timed presentation, each slide will be projected for 50 seconds. And I know my name isn't Natka Spaetzle. But I wish it was!

My name is Natka Spaetzle and today I will be presenting what I worked on this summer. **I'll have more to say about particulars of this project that I won't bore you, Dear Blogosphere, with**
Body dissatisfaction or satisfaction is influenced by a number of factors, including: body image, or the cognitive representation of one's body; experiences during adolescence, including biological factors like pubertal timing; and other socio-cultural and interpersonal influences like parent-child and peer relationships as well as media influences. Some researchers also suggest that temperament may play a role in body image and dissatisfaction.
Surprisingly, little research has been done on the effect of romantic relationships on body dissatisfaction. This surprised me because body image issues and dating or romantic relationships often develop alongside each other during adolescence. What little research has been done has found that dating status predicts self-rating attractiveness, such that those involved in romantic relationships rate themselves as more attractive. There are several limitations in the previous research. Most research on body dissatisfaction has been done with White samples, typically female, from undergraduate populations. Only a few studies have taken ethnicity into account, usually focusing on White and African American women.
In the present study, I asked: Does dating status and body dissatisfaction differ between ethnic groups? How are dating status and body dissatisfaction associated? Does the association differ across ethnic groups?
I had two hypotheses. The first was the reported serious relationships would be associated with lower levels of body dissatisfaction. This hypothesis was based on the previous research and the notion that serious dating relationships would include social support and possibly social status that would decrease body dissatisfaction (and possibly global self-esteem). The second hypothesis was that there would be no differences between ethnic groups. Although there may be cultural differences in norms of appearance and dating relationships, I hypothesized that relationships would be similarly meaningful across cultures.
My sample included 1307 high school seniors (17-18 year olds) from a number of high schools in the greater Los Angeles area. Approximately 37% were boys and 63% were girls. The sample was ethnically diverse (about 9% were White, 16% were African American, 42% were Latino/a, 11% were Asian, and 6% were multiethnic). The students reported their ethnicity and dating status and answered twelve questions about their satisfaction with particular body parts (e.g., chest and arms for boys, hips and general body shape for girls). The body dissatisfaction items came from the eating disorder inventory and body esteem scale for adolescents and adults .
The participants were given several options for their dating status. "Serious" encompassed married or cohabiting, not cohabiting but spending multiple nights together per week and not living together but being in a serious, committed relationship. "Dating" adolescents were dating one or more people casually. Most previous research has only looked at dating versus not dating adolescents or adults, but I separated them into three categories because I think there are some qualitatively different characteristics of casual dating relationships versus serious relationships. As we can see above, 42% of the adolescents in this study reported being in a serious dating relationship, 19% reported dating, and 39% reporting not dating. There were no gender differences in reported dating status.
This is where it gets interesting! Ethnic group differences in dating status were qualified by gender. There were no statistically significant ethnic group differences among boys. However, multiethnic girls were significantly more likely to be in a serious dating relationship than Asian, Latina, African-American, or White girls. And Asian girls were significantly more likely to report not dating than Multiethnic, Latina, African-American, and White girls. [Remember this figure, followers? It was easier to create the second time around.]
Body dissatisfaction differed by ethnicity, as has been found in previous research. African-American girls reported less body dissatisfaction and Asian girls reported more body dissatisfaction than girls from other ethnic groups. Latina, White, and Multiethnic girls reported similar levels of body dissatisfaction. African-American boys reported significantly less body dissatisfaction than Asian boys but both groups reported similar levels of dissatisfaction as White, Latino, and Multiethnic boys.
Body dissatisfaction differed by dating status for girls and boys. However, these effects did not differ by ethnicity. Girls who were not dating reported significantly more body dissatisfaction than girls in serious relationships. No differences were found between girls who were dating and girls in serious relationships or who were not dating. Boys who were not dating reported more body dissatisfaction than boys who were dating or in serious relationships. To put it simply, girls appear to need to be in a serious dating relationship to see a "bump" in body satisfaction whereas boys get the "bump" whether they are casually dating or in a serious relationship. [Note the language in the last sentence is quite causal to illustrate the point more clearly -- but you should not be convinced that anything causal is going on here... it's correlational!] + Should these figures be more like the one up a slide?
Findings support the hypothesis that culture may inform dating behaviors and body dissatisfaction during late adolescence. However, potential consequences of not dating hold across ethnic groups. Support and other social and emotional benefits may explain why being in a serious dating relationship predicted less body dissatisfaction.
I think one of the most important findings from my study was that Asian teens are particularly at risk for body dissatisfaction. This finding will hopefully inform policy and programs aimed to help youth with body image issues.
The next steps are to look at how satisfaction and happiness within relationships affect body dissatisfaction. I hypothesize that adolescents who report being satisfied and happy in their dating relationships will have lower levels of body dissatisfaction. Then I plan to look at warmth, mild hostility, and extreme hostility in their dating relationships to see how those characteristics affect body image. I predict that adolescents who report warm dating relationships will have lower levels of body dissatisfaction. Finally, I plan to study adolescents' interethnic dating relationships and how those types of romantic relationships affect their body dissatisfaction.
You've got questions. I probably have answers!

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