Beauty and Thinness Messages in Children’s Media: A Content Analysis

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Research suggests that young children have body image concerns, such as a desire for thinness and an avoidance of obesity. Surprisingly, few studies have investigated how children's body preferences and stereotypes are influenced by media aimed at children. In order to gain a better understanding of the content of such media, a content analysis was used to examine body image-related messages in popular children's videos and books. Results indicated that messages emphasizing the importance of physical appearance and portraying body stereotypes are present in many children's videos but relatively few books. Of the videos examined, the ones that exhibited the most body image-related messages were Cinderella and The Little Mermaid. Indian in the Cupboard and ET were the videos with the least number of body image-related messages. Of the books studied, the one with the highest number of body image-related messages was Rapunzel. Ginger and The Stinky Cheese Man were the only books studied that did not exhibit body image-related messages. Implications of an association of beauty and thinness in children's media are explored.

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Eating Disorders, v. 12, issue 1, p. 1-14