However, the relationship between video gaming magazines – “where characters are drawn with extreme muscularity and much more realism than in video games themselves” – and the drive for muscularity was found only for Caucasian boys, not for African American boys, say Kristen Harrison and Bradley J. Bond, a professor and doctoral student, respectively, in Illinois’ department of speech communication.
According to Harrison and Bond, theirs is the first study to link the gaming magazine genre to boys’ body ideals.
One hundred and four black and 77 white preadolescent boys with a mean age of 8.77 participated in Harrison and Bond’s longitudinal study to determine whether self-reported exposure to four ideal-body magazine genres – health/fitness, fashion, sports and video gaming – predicted an increased drive for muscularity one year later.
Harrison suggests that at least two characteristics of gaming magazines may explain why the genre appears to play a more important role than more realistic ideal-body magazine genres.
In contrast, models in fitness and fashion magazines and athletes in sports magazines, “although fit and well formed, do not look much different from the real men encountered by boys in their everyday lives.”
The second reason why the gaming genre may play a more prominent role in boys’ developing drive for muscularity is that “male video game characters are frequently cast as superheroes, thereby promoting an association between hyper-muscularity and the power, control and agency that superheroes symbolize to children.”
“We hope that our findings underscore the need to further investigate these magazines to better understand their role in promoting a hyper-muscular physique among boys and young men.”
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