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"I bet they aren't that perfect in reality:" Appearance ideals viewed from the perspective of adolescents with a positive body image

Journal article
Authors Kristina Holmqvist
Ann Frisén
Published in Body Image
Volume 9
Issue 3
Pages 388-395
ISSN 1740-1445
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 388-395
Language en
Keywords Positive body image, Appearance ideals, Adolescents, Qualitative study, self-esteem, appreciation scale, young girls, media, women, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, victimization, perceptions, prevention
Subject categories Psychology


In this qualitative study, we examined the topic of appearance ideals from the perspective of 14-year-old adolescents (N=29) with a positive body image. A thematic analysis revealed that the adolescents with a positive body image were very critical against current ideals, describing them as unnatural and unrealistic, and criticizing media for only showing those consistent with the ideals and having underlying intentions with doing so. Instead, the adolescents defined beauty widely and flexibly, stressed the importance of looking like 'oneself, and conveyed the idea of personality as outplaying looks. The perception of beauty as subjective was also prominent. These results may be helpful when forming preventions targeting those at risk for developing negative body image, adding support for preventions based on media literacy and feminist theories. Additionally, we stress the significance of providing adolescents with alternative ways of thinking about ideals, beauty, and attractiveness. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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