The destructive impact of Chick Lit

25 Feb

I was interested to read an article on The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/body-image-chick-lit-study_n_2534838.html?ir=Books&utm_hp_ref=books) which discusses the destructive impact of Chick Lit on women’s body image.  Interested but hardly surprised.

I consciously avoid books that fall into the genre of Chick Lit after realising years ago that they made me feel a little rubbish by sparking feelings of unhappiness, dissatisfaction and gave me a skewed perspective of the world.  Most protagonists in this genre are meant to represent the average woman and are often expressing their dissatisfaction with their bodies and wishing for a more glamorous body and life.  This emphasis on weight and beauty could actually have a detrimental effect, inducing the reader to doubt their own body and start to compare themselves to others.  ‘Successful’ female characters in Chick Lit tend to be skinny and good-looking.  Such novels rarely explore themes beyond fashion, popularity and beauty which can lead the reader to adopt a very narrow view of the world and the important things in life.

However, I think that the destructive effect of Chick Lit is not just limited to that. The majority of Chick Lit books portray women in a limited number of ‘glamorous’ professions – namely, magazine journalism and fashion.  There is a definite lack of strong female leads having other careers – correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s one single ‘Chick Lit’ book where the protagonist is a scientist or a mathematician.  No wonder most young girls nowadays shun these professions for those they consider more ‘glamorous.’

The characters in Chick Lit tend to be mainly one-dimensional.  Sure, the lead may go through some kind of ‘transformation’ but mostly this is of a superficial nature – she may lose weight and become more confident in herself but this is dependent on conforming to society’s aesthetic.  Rarely is it that she undergoes a real internal transformation and realises that what is important in life goes beyond appearances and the materialistic.

I know the majority of people probably don’t get as swayed by Chick Lit as I am implying but I do think that they can be incredibly detrimental to more vulnerable readers, even implanting ideas and values in the subconscious minds of those who think themselves unlikely to be affected.

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2 Responses to “The destructive impact of Chick Lit”

  1. Zanjabil February 26, 2013 at 12:32 am #

    Well said! I agree with you. I went through a brief phase in my 20’s when I read these. I quickly realized that these types of books were not for me.

    • jadeinlondon February 26, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      Thanks! I think the genre will continue to flourish because there is such high demand for those kinds of stories from voracious celebrity gossip magazine readers but they definitely don’t have a place in my life 🙂 I want to read to broaden my perspective rather than to narrow it. xx

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