You would be hard pressed to find a little girl who doesn’t love at least one of the Disney princesses – they’re fun, they’re fierce, they’re brave, and they’re beautiful. But could the princesses’ sheer physical perfection actually be harming our children?


This is what one group of researchers has suggested this week, in a study report published in the Child Development journal.


As part of their study, the team examined how much time a group of 198 preschool students spent with Disney princess-themed content – from movies to toys. They noted how happy the children were with their bodies, which toys they preferred to play with, and their display of gender-stereotypical behaviour.


The kids were tested again a year later – and the results proved to be very interesting indeed.


The researchers found that, for both little girls and boys; the more ‘Disney princess time’ they enjoyed, the more stereotypically feminine behaviour they exhibited. That’s understandable enough.


What alarmed the researchers, however, was that the little girls who had poorer body image to begin with were the ones spending the most time with the Disney princess movies and toys a year on, suggesting that they are looking up to the princesses as their role models.


Study author Sarah M Coyne explained why this can be problematic for our girls’ development.


“Disney princesses represent some of the first examples of exposure to ‘the thin ideal. As women, we get it our whole lives, and it really does start at the Disney princess level, at ages three and four,” she said.


Would the research team’s observations and concerns worry you?


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