Although plenty of entertainment still relies on outdated sexual and gender stereotypes, gone are the days when "fat" was merely a punch line. Many movies and TV shows have moved beyond portraying larger people as stupid, greedy, and morally bankrupt and slimmer people as attractive, smart, and superior. It can still be hard to find TV shows and movies with a range of body types represented and an emphasis on skills, smarts, and character instead of appearance, but it's worth the effort.
Media has a huge impact on kids' social, emotional, and physical development. Kids look to media for cues about how to behave, how to fit in, and how to know what's cool. So exposing them to media that reflects positive body image shows them it's what's inside that counts.
Here are some recommendations:
"Earth to Luna," age 4+
Bubbly Luna is full of questions and runs her own experiments to satisfy her curiosity.
"Doc McStuffins," age 4+
Animated Doc is kind and caring, but it's her problem-solving that saves the day, and she's well on her way to following in her physician mother's footsteps.
"Annedroids," age 5+
Anne is an inventor and engineer who creates robots and is always tinkering. Unlike many other tween TV characters, Anne eschews fashion and wears overalls, which make perfect sense for her type of play.
"Xploration Outer Space," age 6+
This show promotes STEM learning, and its female host challenges gender stereotypes typically associated with the subject of astronautics.
"Terry the Tomboy," age 8+
A show about a girl who salivates over grilled meat, favors flannel because it's comfortable, and isn't afraid to be seen with dried pie on her face? No body-image issues here.
"Scorpion," age 12+
Scorpion shows that it's OK – even cool – to be an oddball, and that's a powerful lesson worth learning.
"Anne of Green Gables," age 7+
Anne's story is a celebration of friendship, imagination, creativity, hope, and finding family in unexpected places.
"Spirited Away," age 9+
An edgy portrayal of what a young girl needs to do to grow up and take responsibility for more than herself.
"Wadjda," age 9+
The first Saudi Arabian movie to be directed by a woman, Wadjda is the story of a feisty, independent girl who wants to compete against her best friend – a boy in the neighborhood.
"23 Blast," age 10+
An inspiring true tale about a blind football player.
"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," age 11+
A tale of four high school girls who stay in touch by way of a pair of jeans that magically fits all their different body sizes perfectly.
"Real Women Have Curves," age 14+
America Ferrera stars in this movie about culture clash, coming of age, and body image.
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.