Saturday, 9 February 2013

Some Research is Bonkers...

The research a writer does is never bonkers. It's often quite inspirational, in fact it can be downright distracting.

No, the research I'm talking about is the rubbish I read about today Chick-lit 'lowers women's self-esteem' in the Telegraph online - and in the Women's section too.

"The study, published by Virginia Tech (Virginia’s Polytechnic Institute and State University), found that chick-lit books, in which the main character worries about her weight, made female readers more uneasy about their own body image." (Telegraph)

Well when you read on and discover how the test was carried out- they used two books where the central characters were healthy body weights but had low self-esteem (don't we all at some time, especially in winter?) and passages "were selected and nine different versions of the respective texts were produced in which the protagonists’ perception of their body was distorted."

In other words they mucked around with the written words to prove their theories. I won't go on, you can read about it at the above link, but we all get the idea...

I think the researchers should be more worried about the effect of highly paid female celebrities and singers in gaudy barely there clinging outfits in music videos and at high profile events, rather than a book of fiction- the last word does give it away...

And I'm very glad to say that there is a insightful and amusing response from Katy Brand, who echoes the odd thought or two I'd agree with-except the badly written bit... :-)

"The idea that any ‘scholar’ or ‘health official’ should trouble themselves for more than a nanosecond about what some woman thinks about the size of her bottom as a result of reading some badly written piece of fiction they got free with a magazine is a joke. Read and let read, that’s what I say – no book can truly make you feel bad about yourself, and if it does, stop reading it." (Katy Brand )

Of course there are women and young girls who have issues with their bodies, there always have been; I had a school friend who developed anorexia and had to be hospitalised- that was nearly forty years ago- and there was no chick-lit around then.

So researchers, don't claim chick-lit, or women's fiction supports your theories, it doesn't...


  1. Most chick lit that I've come across has been 'fell good' or escapist and far more likely to cheer up the reader than depress them - though I'm sure that it would be possible to take a small section from many and use it out on context to produce a negative reaction.

  2. I think you're right about what the researchers should be checking out, Carol!

    If I want cheering up, I read chick lit! :-) x

  3. Hi Carol

    Very interesting blog post which will resonate with many of us. Unfortunately many journalists will twist data and mould information to suit their articles. Publication or bust! I think most women are intelligent enough to realise that chick-lit doesn't persuade us to eat less, exercise more, develop an eating disorder etc. Stuff and nonsense!!

    Hope you're keeping well. Ange x

  4. I wish some 'researchers' would find something more useful to do with their time! Like write a feel good book that might actually inspire and encourage people.

  5. Patsy and Teresa, I agree the books are generally uplifting and not at all depressing.

    Ange, you're so right.
    Glad you dropped by. :-)

    Rosemary, I suspect if they tried it would have quite the opposite slant. :-)


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