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Is Goodness Beautiful?

Rapunzel in "Tangled," Ariel in "The Little Mermaid," Belle in "Beauty and the Beast:" Each of these animated characters is portrayed as beautiful and good. The "what-is-beautiful-is-good" stereotype is found throughout cartoons, animated films, full-length movies and television programs. This can't be a good message for kids, especially little girls, and can even lead to eating disorders when girls don't learn how to diet the RIGHT way.

Psychologist Doris Bazzini was concerned about this, so her team checked out Disney films, and found that , they all rated attractive children more favorably than unattractive children. In fact, children as young as 6 had already developed a bias, due to the media, toward "beauty as good." They saw these films WITH children and after viewing the film, children were shown photographs of other children and asked to state which ones they would most like to be friends with. Bazzini says, “Regardless of which movie was viewed, children expressed a preference for an attractive child as a friend (78%) over an unattractive child (22%). Bazzini warns that "Parents should be aware that their children are probably absorbing a message portrayed consistently that attractiveness and goodness go together. Even though our study showed one film does not impact this stereotype dramatically, my personal opinion is that a steady diet of these movies is at least reinforcing a stereotype. We have to ask ourselves if we are fine with that. Maybe parents should be having a conversation with their children about these stereotypes."

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