You might want to think twice before revisiting that old copy of “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” Images in the media have long been blamed for low self-esteem among women, but a new report claims that the written word — specifically, “chick lit” — might be just as damaging.
Chick lit, the fiction genre aimed mainly at women, often features self-doubting heroines searching for the trifecta of love, career and a smaller pant size. According to a new study, protagonists who express negative feelings about their weight or body shape can make readers feel bad about themselves.
The researchers, from Virginia Tech, selected two popular novels — Emily Giffin’s “Something Borrowed” and Laura Jensen Walker’s “Dreaming in Black and White” — that feature female protagonists with a healthy body weight but low self-esteem. They then rewrote passages from the novels, changing descriptions of the characters’ sizes and comments reflecting their self-esteem. The rewrites included versions that made the characters slim and insecure, overweight and insecure, slim and self-confident, and overweight and self-confident, as well as versions that removed references to size and self-esteem altogether.
More than 150 college-aged women read the passages and rated how they felt about themselves after each. The researchers found that women who read versions about a slim character reported feeling less sexually attractive than participants who read about a heavier character. Those who read about an insecure heroine felt more concerned about their own weight.
In the nearly 20 years since “ER” premiered on NBC, dramas that peek into the inner workings of hospitals — and fictional doctors’ sordid private lives — have become television mainstays. This season alone, at least six new programs, including the critically panned “Do No Harm” and “The Mob Doctor,” made their debuts. The latest dose of TV hospital fare is “Monday Mornings,” based on a novel by Sanjay Gupta, a physician and CNN medical correspondent.
At the heart of the show are the weekly “morbidity and mortality” meetings at the fictional Chelsea General Hospital. The meetings, which are based on real-life sessions, give doctors the opportunity to review the previous week’s medical complications and sometimes deadly mistakes.
It remains to be seen whether “Monday Mornings” becomes a fan favorite, but critics are already complaining that the characters and story lines feel superficial and tired. A show that could have been “a psychological study of regret and human error,” according to The Post’s Hank Steuver, instead “chooses a prescribed course of ‘ER’-style freneticism and a steady drip of medical miracles.” Episodes air Mondays at 10 p.m. on TNT and are also available online at www.tntdrama.com/series/monday-mornings.