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Who is Your 2 For many American girls, being “model thin” is a very real aspiration, and it starts at a shockingly young age. Images of thin female models and actresses who look beautiful by modern American standards and appears happy; many girls including the youngest and most impressionable view them as role models. A popular cultures icon known for many generations is the Barbie doll. Barbie’s ultra thin body frame is so thin that her weight and body preparations are unattainable but also unhealthy. This is suggesting to young girls to negative body images and unhealthy eating habits.

For young children, fantasy and play are vital parts of socialization in which they internalize ideals and values (Sutton Smith,1997), and dolls provide a tangible image of the body that can be internalized as part of the child’s developing self-concept and body image (Kuther and McDonald, 2004). An experimental study was performed to provide how Barbie has an impact on young girls and how it affects their body shape and body esteem. During this study we examine how Barbie causes girls’ feelings of unhappiness with their bodies and their desire to be thinner. There were three main research questions that are the focus of this experiment.

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First, do images of Barbie have an immediate negative impact on girls’ body images? Does exposure to images of a doll with more realistic body size result in the same negative effects? Is the impact of exposure to Barbie images age related so that effects differ depending on school-year group (grade level)? During the study, we compared effects of exposure to neutral images (which contained no body-relevant cues) but also with exposure to images of Emme (U. S. size 16), a new doll based on the full-figured eponymous American supermodel and endorsed by the Who is Your 3

American Dietetic Association for helping to promote a more positive body image for girls (A. Mendelsohn, 2003). During the study it consists of 162 girls from the age of 5 to 8. Three different types of books were created in order to expose the girls to different images of Barbie dolls images, Emme dolls images, and neutral control images. In these books there are images that created central themes of a story that was written so they can be read a loud by the girls so they had a reason to look at the images for a long period of time. After the study was over the picture books were collected and questionnaires were handed out.

The girls were informed that there is no right or wrong answers. The findings of the experiment were that the very young girls experience extreme body dissatisfaction after exposure to Barbie doll images but not until after exposure to the Emme doll (or neutral control) images. Body dissatisfaction, the experience of negative thoughts and esteem about one’s body, is important to study because it results in a number of significant consequences, including negative self-perception, depressed mood, and disordered eating (Grogan, 1999; Thompson et al. , 1999).

These ultra thin images of Barbie doll not only lowered young girls’ body esteem but also decreased their confidence with their actual body size, making them desire a thinner body. This effect was evident for girls from age 5 ? to age 6 ? but it had a major effect on the on the age group 6 ? to 7 ? years old. Both lowered body esteem and wanting a thinner body are indicators of body dissatisfaction, which can lead to serious consequences such as depressed affect and unhealthy eating behaviors, particularly dieting, which in turn, is a precursor of eating disorder (e. g. Grogan, 1999; Ricciardelli and McCabe, 2001; Ricciardelli et al. , 2003). Due to the resent research findings we hope Who is Your 4 that the impact of fashion dolls and media role models, can help better understand how body image develops as a great impact on our young girls self concept and body dissatisfaction. Programs should be created to help girls aware that thin beauty ideal is both unattainable and unhealthy, we as parents and media role models need to encourage a more realistic body ideal and emphasize nonappearance related sources of self esteem. Also show girls what a healthy body image means rather than telling them.

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