Perceptions of early body image socialization in families: Exploring knowledge, beliefs, and strategies among mothers of preschoolers

Janet M. Liechty, Samantha Clarke, Julie P. Birky, Kristen Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study sought to explore parental perceptions of body image in preschoolers. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 30 primary caregivers of preschoolers to examine knowledge, beliefs, and strategies regarding early body image socialization in families. Thematic Analysis yielded three themes highlighting knowledge gaps, belief discrepancies, and limited awareness of strategies. Findings regarding knowledge: Most participants defined body image as objective attractiveness rather than subjective self-assessment (53%) and focused on negative body image. Beliefs: Although 97% of participants believed weight and shape impact children's self-esteem, 63% believed preschoolers too young to have a body image. Strategies: Most participants (53%) said family was a primary influence on body image, but identified few effective strategies and 63% said they did not do anything to influence children's body image. Findings suggested family body image socialization in preschoolers is occurring outside the awareness of parents and the concept of positive body image is underdeveloped.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-78
Number of pages11
JournalBody Image
Volume19
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Keywords

  • Body image
  • Body self-concept
  • Parenting
  • Positive body image
  • Preschoolers
  • Socialization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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