Children's bodies

Cooper, Victoria and Preece, Vicky (2023). Children's bodies. In: Cooper, Victoria and Tatlow-Golden, Mimi eds. An Introduction to Childhood and Youth Studies and Psychology. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 43–57.



This chapter considers how children’s bodies, although principally acknowledged as biological, are also social. Bodies are seen, appraised, and often judged by children themselves and also by other people, and these judgements can significantly influence children’s lived experiences. Bodies are often perceived according to deeply ingrained social and cultural values which deem some bodies as too fat or too thin, too big or too small. Exploring bodies provides insight into how children understand and value their own bodies and those of others. It also reveals some of the power relations evident in how children’s bodies are defined, categorised, and sometimes controlled according to their age, size, colour, and gender. Using a case study example, this chapter illustrates how children’s bodies are disciplined and ‘schooled’ to conform to institutionalised, dominant, adult-imposed boundaries and rules.

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