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"I would rather be size 10 than have straight A's": A focus group study of adolescent girls' wish to be thinner

Tiggemann, M.; Gardiner, M.; Tiggemann, Marika; Gardiner, Maria; Slater, A.


M. Tiggemann

M. Gardiner

Marika Tiggemann

Maria Gardiner

Amy Slater
Associate Professor in Centre for Appearance Research


The study aimed to investigate the body concerns of adolescent girls, together with the underlying motivations for the wish to be thinner. Focus group methodology was employed in order to access participants' experience in their own language. Altogether 67 girls of Year 11 (aged approximately 16 years) took part in five groups. Audiotaped and transcribed discussions were systematically coded for themes and rated on frequency, extensiveness, intensity, specificity and level of agreement. As expected, sociocultural influences, in particular the media, were reported as exerting the strongest pressures to be thin. More importantly, however, the girls displayed an unexpected sophistication in their conceptualization of the role of both media effects and body image in the construction of their self-image. Contrary to assumptions made in quantitative research, despite clearly articulating a desire to be thinner, the girls also described how this did not necessarily mean they were dissatisfied with their bodies. The findings suggest that the girls' meta-awareness and sophisticated understanding of the media and other pressures, may serve to moderate against these forces which would otherwise seem overwhelming. © 2000 The Association for Professionals in Services for Adolescents.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2000
Journal Journal of Adolescence
Print ISSN 0140-1971
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 6
Pages 645-659
APA6 Citation Gardiner, M., Tiggemann, M., Tiggemann, M., Gardiner, M., & Slater, A. (2000). "I would rather be size 10 than have straight A's": A focus group study of adolescent girls' wish to be thinner. Journal of Adolescence, 23(6), 645-659.
Keywords adolescent, girls, thinner, body image
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