Young girls showing a preference for thin girls

Posted on March 7, 2015

Photo: flickr

We are constantly bombarded with images of thin people on billboards, on magazines and what not. The study looks at the ideals that children have.

Jennifer Harriger tested young girls between the age of three to five. She first asked the girls to consider 12 adjectives (six positive adjectives and six negative adjectives). The girls were told to allocate the adjective to the best-fit, most appropriate female figures. There were three female figures that were very thin, average and very fat. The young girls tend to assign the negative adjectives to the fat figure and more positive adjectives to the thin figure.

The other test involved the young girls looking at nine figures (three fat, three average and three thin) and selecting their first three preference for playmates and within them, they had to choose their best friend from the selection. Children at all ages tended to choose a thin figure for their first choice, a thin or average for the second choice, with no bias in their third choice. Best friend choices tended to be thin.

The three year olds tend to show a greater bias for thinness, with fat prejudice increasing with age. It seems that there is an increasing preference for thinness among the young, and increasing intolerance for fatness. This study helps to identify the need to promote size acceptance and teach young girls that thin is not necessarily good. As it might result in them having eating disorder like anorexia nervosa, etc. if not attended to.

Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Child Development

Source material from British Psychological Society