Preschoolers can recognize physically attractive people and may have formed opinions on adults’ appearances (especially women’s), which may serve as a foundation for their later conception of the happiness associated with beauty. Gender stereotypes that dictate and prescribe what men and women should look like significantly impact children’s attitudes toward the body. For a study, researchers looked at the correlations that preschool boys and girls made between obesity and happiness (5-year-olds). The study involved 680 households with 5-year-old children (329 girls and 351 boys; Mage=5.7 years old). The Beauty & Health visual scale was used to test children’s associations between various body types and perceptions of happiness. According to their findings, obese bodies were deemed unattractive regardless of gender (P<.001). Children equate physical attractiveness with happiness; those with the most aesthetically appealing body types were also considered the happiest. Obese body types likewise received the lowest happiness ratings. However, girls rated men with average body types as happier than boys (t=2.87, P=.004). At the age of 5, gender stereotypes about female bodies were already prevalent and associated with expectations about women’s happiness. Children perceived ladies with thin bodies and those with regular weight as happier than females who are obese.

Source: bmcpediatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12887-022-03396-x