PROVO — Flipping through magazines, channel surfing and blasting music. Seeing images of women and hearing lyrics about them is an everyday occurrence. But, does that have any kind of effect on women’s own perception of themselves? BYU assistant professor Dr. Sarah Coyne began a study to find that out.
Coyne and her associates began by creating three original songs. One song was created with positive lyrics, one with negative lyrics and one with neutral lyrics.
“So we’re measuring their implicit bias towards their own body which basically is a measure of how they feel about themselves without actually asking them, ‘How do you feel about your own body?’ Because that can be a biased response,” Coyne said.
After women listened to the music they were given tasks. One of those was being placed in a room alone with a mirror as they were being recorded. Graduate student Emilie Davis works alongside Coyne and said the women’s response is what stood out the most.
“Most girls, if they’re alone, will do certain things that they probably wouldn’t do in front of other people and it kind of reflects how they see themselves and what mirror time and looking in the mirror is actually like for girls,” Davis said.
“It’s surprising how many women, you know, really fiddled with their appearance or like shook their thighs or, you know, all sorts of things, and it makes me feel sad watching it,” Coyne said.
The Dove Beauty campaign, Barbie’s new normal body figure, and even the trending #plusisequal all a part of the effort to help women embrace themselves and their body.
“I’m also hoping that women and young girls will really think about what they’re listening to and I think the media has a great power for good if they just use it,” Coyne said.
Dr. Coyne said they plan on testing at least 300 women. She hopes the study will make musical artists think about the messages their lyrics are putting out in the world.