Date Approved

4-30-2012

Date Posted

9-19-2013

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Michelle R. Byrd, PhD., Chair

Committee Member

Karen Saules, PhD.

Committee Member

Thomas Schmitt, PhD.

Committee Member

Judith Brooks, PhD., R.D

Abstract

Subclinical levels of disordered eating are problematic for both adolescent girls and young women. Not only could subclinical disordered eating lead to full threshold eating disorders without intervention, it is also associated with higher levels of psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide. Unfortunately, most current interventions for subclinical eating disorders demonstrate limited effectiveness in creating lasting changes in disordered eating thoughts and behaviors. This study contributes to the literature by investigating a novel intervention for addressing subclinical disordered eating in both adolescent girls and undergraduate women. Specifically, this study attempted to detect changes in measures of psychological distress, disordered eating behavior, objectified body-consciousness, feminist identity, and self-esteem in women and adolescent girls involved in a feminist mentoring program. It was hypothesized that participation in the mentoring program would decrease levels of psychological distress, disordered eating behavior, and objectified body-consciousness, in addition to raising levels of self-esteem and feminist identification for both women and adolescent girls. Further, it was hypothesized that participation in mentoring would decrease substance abuse for college women. Although not all of the hypotheses were confirmed, there were some significant findings that demonstrate beneficial effects of this program for both girls and women. Specifically, girls who participated in the program experienced a significant decline in disordered eating behavior. In addition, both girls and women who participated in the program showed a significant increase in feminist identity. The implications of these results, limitations of the present study, and directions for future research are discussed.

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