Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Too fat to be a princess?' UCF study shows young girls worry about body image

25.11.2009
'The Princess and the Frog' and other movies can help parents start conversations with their children about weight, skin color and beauty
Even before they start school, many young girls worry that they are fat. But a new study suggests watching a movie starring a stereotypically thin and beautiful princess may not increase children's anxieties.

Nearly half of the 3- to 6-year-old girls in a study by University of Central Florida psychology professor Stacey Tantleff-Dunn and doctoral student Sharon Hayes said they worry about being fat. About one-third would change a physical attribute, such as their weight or hair color.

The number of girls worried about being fat at such a young age concerns Tantleff-Dunn because of the potential implications later in life. Studies have shown that young girls worried about their body image are more likely to suffer from eating disorders when they are older.

The encouraging news for parents is that taking their young daughters to see the new Disney film "The Princess and the Frog" isn't likely to influence how they perceive their bodies.

The UCF study, published online this week in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, concluded that young girls' behavior or self-esteem did not appear to be influenced by video clips of the beautiful, thin princesses in animated children's movies. That's a sharp contrast to earlier studies showing how the self-esteem of older girls and women suffers after short-term exposure to thin, beautiful models on television and in the movies.

While the study found no short-term consequences for young girls, the media's portrayal of beauty likely is one of the strongest influences on how they perceive their bodies because children spend so much time watching movies and television, Tantleff-Dunn said.

That's why it's important for parents to use movies such as "The Princess and the Frog," which premieres Nov. 25 in New York and Los Angeles and Dec. 11 nationwide, to start conversations with their children about weight, skin color and their perceptions of beauty, she said. They can explain that princesses' tiny waists are not realistic for girls and that children don't need Cinderella's golden hair or Snow White's porcelain skin to look good.

"We need to help our children challenge the images of beauty, particularly thinness, that they see and idolize and encourage them to question how much appearance should be part of their self-worth," said Tantleff-Dunn, who directs UCF's Laboratory for the Study of Eating, Appearance and Health. "We should help them build a positive self-image with an appreciation for many different types of body attributes."

Criticism and teasing from parents, siblings and peers also shape how young girls perceive their bodies, Tantleff-Dunn said. And as their children's most important role models, parents also shouldavoid criticizing their own bodies.

During the study, each of the 121 girls was taken into a room with a "playmate" -- a trained research associate in her 20s who had experience working with children. After chatting for several minutes, the playmate asked each girl how she feels about the way she looks. Thirty-one percent indicated they almost always worry about being fat, while another 18 percent said they sometimes worry about it.

Half of the girls watched parts of animated children's movies such as Cinderella that featured young, beautiful characters and appearance-focused comments, such as Gaston telling Belle in Beauty and the Beast that she is "the most beautiful girl in town, and that makes her the best." The second group watched parts of animated children's movies such as Dora the Explorer and Clifford the Big Red Dog that do not contain any appearance-related messages.

In a room that featured a dress-up rack of costumes, a vanity, dinosaurs and more, children then spent about the same amount of time on appearance-related play activities, such as brushing their hair at the vanity, regardless of which set of movies they watched.

While older girls and women tend to compare their bodies to the models', younger children may be more likely to adopt the persona of the princesses while playing, the UCF researchers said.

Tantleff-Dunn began teaching at UCF in 1996 after she received her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of South Florida and taught there as a visiting assistant professor for two years. Her research interests include body image, eating behavior, interpersonal relationships and women's issues. She has a part-time private practice in Winter Park, Fla.

UCF Stands For Opportunity: The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 3rd largest in the nation with more than 53,500 students. UCF's first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region's economic development. UCF's culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy.

Chad Binette | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucf.edu

Further reports about: UCF body image clinical psychology short-term consequences

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From Hannover around the world and to the Mars: LZH delivers laser for ExoMars 2020

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Borophene shines alone as 2-D plasmonic material

21.11.2017 | Materials Sciences

Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos

21.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>