Am I too fat to be a princess? Examining the effects of popular children's media on young girls' body image

Br J Dev Psychol. 2010 Jun;28(Pt 2):413-26. doi: 10.1348/026151009x424240.


The current study investigated the effects of brief exposure to appearance-related media on young girls' body image. One hundred and twenty-one girls aged 3-6 years old participated. Results indicated that exposure did not affect body dissatisfaction or engagement in appearance-related play behaviours. This is the first empirical study to provide support for previous findings that suggest media exposure does not affect body image in young girls. In contrast to older populations, it is possible that young children may adopt the persona of attractive characters with whom they identify rather than comparing themselves to the characters. Although nearly all girls liked the way they looked, self-report data indicated that nearly one-third of the participants would change something about their physical appearance and nearly half of the girls worried about being fat. Exposure to appearance-related media did not exacerbate concerns.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Image*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / physiology
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Mass Media*
  • Perception / physiology
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Play and Playthings / psychology
  • Self Concept
  • Social Environment