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Exploring adolescent girls' identification of beauty types through consumer collages

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Purpose - The objective of this study is to explore adolescent girls' knowledge about the types of beauty valued in contemporary American popular and commercial culture. Design/methodology/approach - Eighty girls ranging from seven to thirteen years old participated in a card sorting and collage construction exercise using 47 advertisements that featured models. Findings - Differences were found among girls according to age. Preferred beauty types were more complex with age. Furthermore, older girls made more product and brand associations. Research limitations/implications - The findings indicate that the beauty match-up hypothesis holds among young girls. Practical implications - Advertisers may be overlooking the audience of young women by neglecting to use models who represent their desired type(s) of beauty. They may even be alienating young girls by using anti-ideals such as nudity and sexiness. Furthermore, advertisers must use models who convey the appropriate personality traits to create persuasive ads. Originality/value - This study is important because it expands upon previous work that has assessed how and why young girls are affected by highly attractive models in ads. However, instead of conceptualizing physical attractiveness as a simple bipolar continuum from "attractive or pretty" to "unattractive or ugly", this work considers the complex, multidimensional properties of beauty.

Keywords: Adolescents; Advertising; Girls; Self Esteem

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2005


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