Assessing body image in young children: A preliminary study of racial and developmental differences

Kristin E. Heron, Joshua M. Smyth, Esther Akano, Stephen A. Wonderlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine body image discrepancies in elementary-age children in a racially diverse sample. Body image and body image discrepancy were measured in elementary school children (N = 58) of various racial groups (35% Hispanic, 33% African American, 16% Caucasian, 14% other). Each participant was shown a set of silhouette figure drawings and reported current and ideal body sizes. Children's body discrepancies appear to change between Grades 1 and 2. Notable discrepancies between their current and ideal figures, and their current figure and those that they believe are most attractive, are largely absent in Grade 1, but are evident in Grade 2 and older children. No substantive racial or gender differences in body image perceptions or dissatisfaction were observed in this sample. Body image dissatisfaction may begin as early as second grade in both girls and boys of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. These findings provide preliminary evidence that body discrepancies may begin much earlier than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 6 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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