Associations Between Media Representations of Physical, Personality, and Social Attributes by Gender: A Content Analysis of Children’s Animated Film Characters

María Pilar León González, Álvaro Infantes Paniagua, Tracey Thornborrow, Onofre Contreras Jordán


This study conducted a content analysis of 130 characters from 24 recent popular animated children’s films and examined the associations between physical appearance, personality, and social attributes by gender. We found that physical attractiveness was associated with having more friends and receiving more affection among male characters, and negatively associated with weight status among females. Also, wearing close-fitting clothes was associated with attractiveness among females and with popularity, musculature, and strength among males. However, being muscular, stronger, and taller was associated with less intelligence among males. Regarding gender-stereotyped body ideals, female characters were portrayed as slimmer and attractive more frequently than males, who tended to be larger, muscular, and stronger. Results suggest that mainstream media’s narrow and stereotypically gendered appearance standards are prevalent in content aimed at children and highlight the need for continuing research examining their impact on children’s body image and gender development.


media, physical attractiveness, children, gender stereotypes, films

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