You Should Be Reading: Fashion and Adolescence

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This week, Worn Through would like to highlight a selection of recently published articles focusing on the topic of fashion and adolescence. In addition to promoting an adolescent body type, the fashion industry is increasingly making teens, especially teen girls, the target of advertising and marketing campaigns. The process of developing a personal style is a common aspect of adolescence in the Western world, as is the struggle with body image comparisons. How do adolescents negotiate the presence of fashion in their daily lives? These three articles examine different aspects of those questions. We hope you enjoy!

1. Dmitrow-Devold, K. (2013). “Superficial! Body obsessed! Commercial!” Norwegian press representations of girl bloggersGirlhood Studies, 6(2), 65-82.

Teenage female personal bloggers in Norway occupy the top positions in national blog rankings. This takes girl-bloggers to a place where they have rarely, if ever, been before: a place with massive audiences and media attention that can bring about celebrity status or financial benefits. Operating within a genre of personal blogging that combines accounts of everyday life and topics related to fashion and beauty, they are commonly referred to as pink bloggers. This gendered term is widely used in the media and this article argues that it contributes to a reinforcement of a negative image of teenage female personal bloggers, who are dismissed as trivial, commercial and irresponsible. This article analyzes prevailing discursive representations of the so-called pink bloggers in the mainstream press coverage: popular but insignificant, trendsetting but irresponsible, savvy but vulnerable. The implications of these representations are discussed as well. — Full Article Abstract 

2. Harrison, K., & Hefner, V. (2014). Virtually perfect: Image retouching and adolescent body image. Media Psychology, 17(2), 134-153. 

Most studies of ideal-body media effects on body image focus on the extreme thinness of the models, not their idealness. In modern media, this idealness is often created or maximized via digital image editing. This experiment tested the effects of image editing outside the research-typical context of exclusive thinness. Original unretouched photographs were manipulated by a professional retoucher to produce unretouched and retouched image conditions. In a third condition (retouched-aware), the retouched images were explicitly labeled as retouched. Adolescents ( N = 393, average age 15.43) were randomly assigned to one of these conditions or a no-exposure control, and they completed a questionnaire following exposure. Objectified body consciousness increased and physical self-esteem decreased among male and female adolescents in the retouched-aware condition only. This boomerang effect of retouching awareness is explored in the discussion. — Full Article Abstract 

3. Johnson, K. K. P., Kang, M., & Kim, J.-E. (2014). Reflections on appearance socialization during childhood and adolescenceClothing and Textiles Research Journal, 32(2), 79-92. 

Appearance management includes “all activities and thought processes leading to the purchase and wear of clothing items as well as processes of body modification” (e.g., piercings, tattooing) (Kaiser, 1997, p. 5). The authors focused on investigating the processes of appearance socialization by uncovering the types of appearance management rules learned from or attributed to significant others as well as rules learned from other members of the socio-cultural environment experienced during childhood and adolescence. Within appearance management the focus was on rules related to body supplements  Data was collected from young adults (n = 43). Participants were asked to recall a specific time period during their childhood and adolescent years and to write about their experiences concerning what appearance “rules” they learned, how they learned them, and from whom. They were also asked to share any conflicts they experienced and how these conflicts were resolved. Many of the recollected rules centered on aesthetic concerns and contextual aspects of appearance management. Mothers were key socializing agents and at the center of conflicts over appearance. The most common resolution styles were compliance and problem solving. — Paraphrased Article Abstract


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