Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 63, Issue 9, pp 621-630

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The Effects of Playing with Thin Dolls on Body Image and Food Intake in Young Girls

  • Doeschka J. AnschutzAffiliated withBehavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Email author 
  • , Rutger C. M. E. EngelsAffiliated withBehavioural Science Institute, Radboud University


This study experimentally tested the effects of playing with thin dolls on body image and food intake in 6- to 10-year-old Dutch girls (N = 117). Girls were randomly assigned to play with a thin doll, an average-sized doll, or Legos in a no doll control condition. After 10 min, they participated in a taste-test and completed questionnaires about body image. No differences were found between conditions for any of the body image variables. However, girls who played with the average-sized doll ate significantly more food than girls in other exposure conditions. Although no support was found for the assumption that playing with thin dolls influences body image, the dolls directly affected actual food intake in these young girls.


Barbie doll Emme doll Thin dolls Body image Food intake Young girls