Chick Lit Characters Can Ruin Women’s Self-Esteem

Self-critical female book heroines may be endearing to the average woman, but researchers say they can be damaging to your self-esteem.

In a study published in the journal Body Image, researchers from Virginia Tech found that female protagonists who were healthy weights but had low self-esteem could impact the way a woman reader felt about her own body–in a negative way.

Bridget Jones syndrome

For the study, researchers took passages from two popular books in which the female heroines were average-sized but self-critical about their appearances or sense of worth: Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed and Jensen Walker’s Dreaming in Black and White.

They then gave readers nine different versions of the passages in which the character’s body weight was either heavier or thinner and her attitude about her body varied from good to bad. Participants read the passages and had to rate their own attractiveness after each one.


The results showed that participants felt less sexually attractive when they read about a thin protagonist and were also more concerned with their own body shape and weight after reading a passage in which a protagonist had low self-esteem.

Researchers concluded that while weight-obsessed female heroines might be relatable, they aren’t necessarily promoting healthy attitudes for women.

Source: New York Daily News

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