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Body Image. 2014 Mar;11(2):171-4. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2013.12.001. Epub 2014 Jan 4.

Body-size stigmatization by preschool girls: in a doll's world, it is good to be "Barbie".

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, United States. Electronic address:
  • 2Department of Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, United States.


A number of studies have measured body size stigmatization, that is, the assigning of negative characteristics to individuals who are considered fat, in samples of children as young as preschool-age. The results of such studies are fairly consistent, but may be criticized for the abstract nature of the line drawings typically used as test stimuli. In the present study the utility of using toy dolls to gauge young girls' views toward different body shapes was assessed. Forty girls ages 3½-5½ were asked to assign various traits to one of three dolls (thin, average, and fat). As with previous work, responses fell out in a stereotypical pattern, with the positive characteristics attributed most often to the thin or average doll and all of the negative characteristics most often to the fat doll. The strengths and weaknesses of this doll paradigm in studies of body-size stigmatization by young children are discussed.

Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Anti-fat biases; Barbie; Body size stigmatization; Preschool children; Thin idealization

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