Turns out, Bridget Jones may be bad for your health, according to a new study. Self-scrutinizing female protagoninsts in so-called chick lit books may be ruinous for a woman's self-image.
Researchers from Virginia Tech in the US analyzed the effect of protagonist body weight and body esteem on female readers' body esteem in a study published in the journal Body Image. Their conclusions: all that weight-obsessed neurosis should be cause for concern among scholars and health officials, reported The Guardian.
To reach their conclusions, the team took passages from two popular novels where the characters had healthy body weights but low self-esteem: Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed and Laura Jensen Walker's Dreaming in Black and White. Then they replaced the passages with nine different versions in which descriptions of the heroine's body size and weight were altered, making her heavier or thinner, as well as varying her attitudes about her shape.
Students then read the passages while rating their own attractiveness. Subjects said they felt significantly less sexually attractive when they read about a slim character, and significantly more worried about their own weight when reading about a protagonist with low self-esteem.
A recent Texas A&M University study found that while media is often the target for promoting body image issues among girls, peer influence - a girl's group of friends - may play a bigger role.