Women's Perceptions of the Adolescent Experience

By Kaplan, Elaine Bell | Adolescence, Fall 1997 | Go to article overview

Women's Perceptions of the Adolescent Experience


Kaplan, Elaine Bell, Adolescence


What can women's perceptions about their own adolescence tell us about female adolescence? The answer to this question offers insight into the pressures and strategies of the adolescent years which comprise a pivotal transition period. This subject is particularly relevant because, as studies by Fine (1988), Gilbert and Taylor (1991), Gilligan (1990), and Tolson (1994) have shown, adolescence can be a far more difficult stage for many teenage girls than has been supposed. Not only are they beginning to deal with identity issues and peer and family pressures, they are increasingly involved in their body image while losing self-confidence (Brick, 1989; Costello & Stone, 1994; Gilligan, 1990; Selverstone, 1989; Thorne, 1993).

Research on the subject of adolescent girls is significant given the current public and political debate concerning teenage pregnancies, girl gangs, and drug use, underscored by the need for explanatory theories for such behavior and the demand for solutions. Thus, the purpose of this paper is not only to examine women's perceptions of their adolescence, but to gain insight into the issues of adolescence and their consequences. Finally, emerging from the focus group interviews are workable strategies that could serve as support during this significant time of life.

The data were derived from focus group interviews with twenty-four culturally and racially diverse women college students. Four questions were used as the locus of the discussion: (1) What were some of your experiences as an adolescent? (2) What kind of strategies did you use to handle your problems? (3) What was the single most important experience you recall about your adolescent years? (4) How did you handle it?

All of these women were from the middle-class, two-parent households; thus, they had strong support systems, which might lead to the conclusion that their adolescent problems would be less difficult than for those who did not have such support systems. However, each of these women experienced their adolescence as a time of great stress, perceiving early adolescence as the most traumatic period.

ISSUES FOR ADOLESCENT GIRLS

The ages ten to sixteen is a challenge for young girls, not only because they are beginning to deal with identity issues and peer pressure, but are confronting their emerging physical and emotional maturity - which gives the appearance of a sexual and emotional readiness that has not actually been achieved. During adolescence girls undergo a process of feminization as their identity becomes tied to feminine expressions while they are learning to conform to the norms and rules governing femininity (Bush, Simmons, Hutchenson & Blyth, 1977; Fox, Colombo, Clevenger, & Ferguson, 1988; Gecas & Serf, 1990; Rich, 1980; Richmond-Abbot, 1992; Thompson, 1990; Thorne, 1993; Tolson, 1994).

Body Image

A consequence of the greater focus on femininity and relations with friends, especially boys, is that adolescent girls face compelling issues related to their body image (Costello & Stone (1994); Horton (1992). Girls are more likely than boys to develop various eating disorders, among them anorexia nervosa and bulimia. For example, a 1991 congressional study indicates that five in every 1,000 adolescent and young adult women are anorexic (Costello & Stone, 1994; Renzetti & Curran, 1989). An estimated 9% of anorexics die prematurely, either from suicide or starvation, and fewer than half of the anorexics are able to recover fully. These studies also note that white girls, more than girls from other cultural groups, tend to suffer from this eating disorder.

While many white teenagers diet more than they should, a large number of poor black teenage girls develop problems with obesity (Costello & Stone 1994). Obesity, defined as excess body weight and referred to as "diet of poverty" (Costello & Stone 1994, p.172) is a problem for all women, but especially for 25% of black women as compared to 10% of white women (Costello & Stone, 1994). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Women's Perceptions of the Adolescent Experience
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.