Does this book make me look fat? The effect of protagonist body weight and body esteem on female readers' body esteem

Melissa J. Kaminski, Robert G. Magee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Effects of visual representations of the thin ideal in the media have been widely explored, but textual representations of the thin ideal in novels have received scant attention. The chick literature genre has been criticized for depicting characters who worry about their body weight and who have poor body esteem. Excerpts from two chick lit novels were used to examine the effect of a protagonist's body weight and body esteem on college women's (N= 159) perceptions of their sexual attractiveness and weight concern. Two narratives were used to minimize the possibility that idiosyncratic characteristics of one excerpt might influence the study's results. Underweight (vs. healthy weight) protagonists predicted readers' lower perceived sexual attractiveness. Protagonists with low body esteem (vs. control) predicted readers' increased weight concern. Scholars and health officials should be concerned about the effect chick lit novels might have on women's body image.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-258
Number of pages4
JournalBody Image
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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