Research linking magazines to body dissatisfaction

The Brainwash Project aims to encourage teenage girls to be critical rather than passive consumers of popular culture – with the ability to accept healthy, positive messages, and reject fake or damaging messages. Too many advertisers rely on sending the message that women are inferior and flawed in order to sell products. Doing this is irresponsible and the damage it is inflicting upon young girls has been proven by research.

One such research study was conducted by Women’s Forum Australia and the results published in “Faking it”: a magazine written specifically for young women that explains the research in a normal magazine-format. Click here for more information about it.

Some of the results of the study, conducted in 2007, are quite scary:

  • 70% -76% of Australian high school girls consistently choose an ideal figure that they wish to have that is thinner than their own.
  • Only 16% of young women are happy with their body weight.
  • Of healthy weight Australian women, 47% believe they are overweight
  • Less than 25% of Australian women are satisfied with their weight
  • Body dissatisfaction has been shown to be directly related to declining self-esteem among girls, negative mood and mood disturbances.
  • Unhealthy weight loss behaviours are associated with negative mood and unhealthy weight gain.

Many women and young girls can identify that magazines contribute to their body dissatisfaction, but the magazines are only part of the onslaught. Women are constantly told by advertising billboards, television shows and advertisements, newspapers, the meagre coverage female olympians receive compared to men, books, movies, etc that they are not good enough as they are and that they need to enhance/improve/better/change/rejuvenate  how they look/eat/exercise and dress now/today/yesterday/in just five weeks in order to get the ‘perfect’ body. There is no way that this doesn’t affect us. It is everywhere and because it it’s everywhere, it’s inescapable.

Check out this video to hear more about the “Faking it” study and what it found. Plenty of teenage girls testify that magazines pressure them to be thin, or to desire to look better than they currently do. Primary school girls admit that they have felt fat, even though they know that they aren’t.

The aim of Brainwash Magazine is to provide a safe reading space for teenage girls. It won’t make them feel bad about themselves and it won’t show or encourage only one beauty ideal. It will show a wide range of body shapes, ethnicities, and even sexual preferences. It won’t place importance on physical appearance. It will acknowledge that many girls would like to read content that doesn’t revolve around stereotypes and the same content re-worked month after month. It will be inclusive of girls who like skateboarding and might not have loved the colour pink their whole lives. Most importantly, the magazine is accepting submissions from teenagers and young girls. It values their opinions and it is being made purely for them – not for advertisers, not for the hell of it and not for profit.

For more information about the Brainwash Project, or to lend your support, please check out this page:

If you’re on Facbeook, make sure to link up to: to keep updated.