Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White… Many of them have captured the hearts of little ones. So much so, that these cartoon heroines even play a role in the development of self-esteem in children.
Few parents are happy to see their offspring proudly wearing Disney t-shirts, sweaters, jogging pants and other clothing. And yet, by playing the emotion card, the American company has managed to establish itself in the imagination of the youngest. An influence, which could nevertheless be positive according to researchers from the journal Psychology of Popular Medi: in a recent study, they affirm that Disney princesses could improve the self-confidence of young children.
A positive relationship between princesses and toddlers’ egos
It is in the journal Psychology of Popular Media that the study entitled “Ariel, Aurore or Anna? Disney Princess Body Size as a Predictor of Body Esteem and Gendered Play in Early Childhood” was published. 340 children were observed, the majority of whom were little girls.
The researchers’ objective was to understand the impact of princesses on children’s self-confidence, at 3 years old and then at 4 years old. For this, the corpulence of the heroines (classified as follows: thin, average and above average) was taken into account.
Result ? Toddlers whose favorite princesses had average-sized bodies, like Moana, had higher body esteem a year later (at age 4).
These children were also more open to playing so-called “masculine” and/or “feminine” games. An observation, which was confirmed both in little boys and in little girls.
“The medium-sized princesses created a protective effect, strengthening children’s confidence in their own bodies and freeing them to play in different ways“said Dr. Jane Shawcroft, lead author of the study.”They run, climb huge mountains and fight“, she explains. “For these princesses, their story is more about what they can do with their bodies than how they look.”
In contrast, researchers found that for children whose favorite princess was thin, there was no significant relationship between portraying that princess (e.g., watching princess movies or playing with princess toys) and children’s body esteem.
It now remains to find the right balance between these marketed cartoons (never before 3 years) and the innocence of our children.