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Old 02-05-2013, 05:33 PM   #1
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"Chick lit harms body image," study says.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013...lit-body-image

Quote:
They adapted a passage from each of them to come up with nine versions for each novel, from an underweight heroine with high body esteem to an overweight one with low body esteem, so there might be a character who states: "I'm 5'4", 140lb, and a size six", or one who says: "I'm 5'4", 105lb, and a size zero".

They then distributed the passages amongst 159 female university students, who after reading them were then asked to rate how they felt about various body parts and sexual attractiveness. The study found that when the narrative was about a slim heroine, participants felt "significantly" less sexually attractive, and that when it featured a protagonist with low body esteem, readers were "significantly more concerned about their weight" than participants in the control condition.
I think it's a bit of a logical leap to say that this harms body image long-term, but it certainly seems to raise awareness of body image in the short-term, and can exacerbate existing body image issues (which we know are distorted from all sorts of other sources).

Thoughts?
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:41 PM   #2
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Trying to find a cause-effect relationship of this sort from a broad cross-section of organisms as complex as humans is about as hard as jamming soft butter up a wildcat's a$$ with a hot poker.
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:04 PM   #3
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Seriously? What next? Are we going to distribute murder mysteries and then see if people have more of an inclination to harm others?
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:33 PM   #4
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The independent variable here is not 'chick lit' versus 'non-chick lit'.
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:45 PM   #5
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O_o

I was under the impression that a healthy sub-genre of "chick-lit" features "average" or "overweight" heroines who are perfectly happy with their size. Eh, I'm generally not fond of "studies" that talk about how a particular genre is bad. There are no bad genres, only bad writers.

ETA: Also not that impressed that this "study" included a grand total of two books. Really?

I'm wondering something now though: How many male narrators even mention their dimensions like that?
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:48 PM   #6
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As long as there are doctoral candidates, there will be studies like these.
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:24 PM   #7
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:54 PM   #8
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There's something to be said about "priming" opinions/responses to questions with stimuli.

If anything, the "study" shows a relationship between reading material and self-esteem--but whether or not the study has appropriately captured the entirety of Chick Lit is another matter.

Edit: And another thing, they never compared how the women responded when presented with high self-esteem characters that are not underweight.
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:56 PM   #9
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Why do the women in the stories either have to be 105 pound with a good body image or an curvy woman with low self-esteem? I have read several books in the 'chick-lit' genre with curvy woman with high self-esteem, and I know several women like that in real life as well.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:10 PM   #10
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This is what a friend of mine calls "turdish thinking". If these people are academics, then they hand out degrees purely on the basis of pure crap for brains. They'd make a bigger controbution to the world by seeing how many academics survive a fall off a two hundred foot cliff.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:38 PM   #11
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How about Jane Green's novel Jemima J, in which [spoiler alert]:

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Jemima loses a ton of weight and goes to meet Love Interest.

Things seem to be working out until she discovers that Love Interest is just using her as a skinny beard -- he really loves a fat girl!

Wait, it's good to be skinny. No! It's good to be fat! It's....oh screw it. Where's the cookies?
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:43 AM   #12
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[QUOTE=

Wait, it's good to be skinny. No! It's good to be fat! It's....oh screw it. Where's the cookies?[/QUOTE]

Funny, doesn't everyone have issues about their esteem or body image whether or not they are actually skinny or fat? Even the most confident person has to be "like dude I could really lose a bit of weight." It's a complex human issue and not one that stems from "chick-lit" novels. If anything, I'd target "bad girls club" and "jersey shore." When my sister talks about those I feel like finding the nearest trash recepticle.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:47 AM   #13
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:31 AM   #14
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Studies like this are good for a laugh and that's about it.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharacterInWhite View Post
And another thing, they never compared how the women responded when presented with high self-esteem characters that are not underweight.
THIS exactly!

It seems as if this 'study' was specifically designed to yield these negative results. They didn't even bother to include an option where the MC is plus-sized and loving life.

I'm rather annoyed though that these two options (5'4 105lbs + happy and 5'4 140lbs + unhappy) even affected anyone's body image at all though. But then again, were these gals vetted about their body images before they read the book passages? Nowadays it seems like finding a human being without body issues is akin to finding a unicorn that poops rainbows and pees champagne.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:55 AM   #16
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Quote:
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As long as there are doctoral candidates, there will be studies like these.
Yep. And when all the 'research subjects' are "female university students", I suspect it has more to do with convenience than a carefully selected cross-section of the target audience.
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:23 PM   #17
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... yeah. Well okay. Maybe so.

But with Beyonce front and center, who's tending?
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:35 PM   #18
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Quote:
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As long as there are doctoral candidates, there will be studies like these.
Very true... Along with narrowly-focussed 'Journals' of perhaps questionable academic validity.

And I doubt chick lit could possibly be worse than photo-shopped magazine covers, or women who constantly obsess about their weight in real life to their friends.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lolchemist View Post
THIS exactly!

It seems as if this 'study' was specifically designed to yield these negative results. They didn't even bother to include an option where the MC is plus-sized and loving life.
Quote:
Originally Posted by frimble3 View Post
Yep. And when all the 'research subjects' are "female university students", I suspect it has more to do with convenience than a carefully selected cross-section of the target audience.
Apparently shoddy research methods... no wonder people are (rightly) suspicious of 'global warming' or 'climate change' and its promoters' obsession with Journals and 'peer review'...
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:50 PM   #19
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Sample was too small (only 159 students).

Would need to know the state of mine of the students before they read the passages. Did they already have self esteem/body awareness issues? Can't make a broad sweeping judgement with so little information.

All they say is "than participants in the control condition." So what was the control condition? Did they read the passages as written? Not read Chick Lit?

These types of surveys bug me too much to have good constructive comments... Sorry.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:00 PM   #20
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That's stupid. There's about a hundred things wrong with the "study" and its "conclusion". Especially.... seriously? With all the millions of women and representations of them an insecure woman might compare herself to, they think characters in chick lit have a significant effect? As a young female university student when I'm feeling insecure it's because I'm comparing myself to other beautiful talented women I know personally, or who actually lived and actually achieved things (I just found out about the incredibly talented and incredibly beautiful Lee Miller, for instance, who makes me feel about as beautiful and talented as a stick). I think even photo-shopped celebrities and models would come out ahead of fictional characters. This study sucks.

Also... that thin girl has a BMI of 18. That's seriously underweight. That's flat-out sickly, both physically and in appearance. Don't envy that.

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Old 02-07-2013, 05:04 AM   #21
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incredibly beautiful Lee Miller
... indeed. Worth googling.

In fairness, though, photography has to be factored in.
Photographers were much more talented back then,
and really knew how to draw out the beauty of their models.


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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsie_de_Wolfe
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:21 AM   #22
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Someone who's 5'4". 140 pounds is not going to be a size 6.
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:24 AM   #23
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I'm rather annoyed though that these two options (5'4 105lbs + happy and 5'4 140lbs + unhappy) even affected anyone's body image at all
This phenomenon is unfortunately rather common to us poor human beings. We're rather suggestible. If you tell someone they suck at something right before they do it, they will inevitably suck.
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:25 AM   #24
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:20 AM   #25
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Someone who's 5'4". 140 pounds is not going to be a size 6.
I was a six when I weighed 140. Just depends on how you're built. I've put on a bit of weight, but I'm still an eight.

Granted, I don't think a six now is what it was ten years ago.
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