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Does Barbie make girls want to be thin? The effect of experimental exposure to images of dolls on the body image of 5- to 8-year-old girls
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 18:25 authored by Helga Dittmar, Emma Halliwell, Suzanne Ive
The ubiquitous Barbie doll was examined in the present study as a possible cause for young girls' body dissatisfaction. A total of 162 girls, from age 5 to age 8, were exposed to images of either Barbie dolls, Emme dolls (U.S. size 16), or no dolls (baseline control) and then completed assessments of body image. Girls exposed to Barbie reported lower body esteem and greater desire for a thinner body shape than girls in the other exposure conditions. However, this immediate negative impact of Barbie doll was no longer evident in the oldest girls. These findings imply that, even if dolls cease to function as aspirational role models for older girls, early exposure to dolls epitomizing an unrealistically thin body ideal may damage girls' body image, which would contribute to an increased risk of disordered eating and weight cycling.
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association
Department affiliated with
- Psychology Publications
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