Gendered Appearances among Young Children and in the Media: An East-West Cultural Comparison. By: Gutierrez, Brenda C.; Halim, May Ling D.; Ng, Florrie Fei-Yin; Kwak, Keumjoo; Ortiz-Cubias, Sara; Cheng, Grace Yui-Lei; Sze, Irene Nga-Lam. Sex Roles. Mar2020, Vol. 82 Issue 5/6, p306-320. 15p.

Many young children often exhibit a strong desire to wear extremely gender-typed clothing (appearance rigidity), reflecting their emerging gender identities. However, research on appearance rigidity largely has been limited to the United States, raising questions on whether appearance is a fundamental aspect of gender development. Studies 1 and 2 investigated whether appearance rigidity could also be observed in an East Asian culture (Hong Kong) and whether regional differences might be found. Based on cultural differences in systems of thought (e.g., more acceptance of contradictions in East Asian culture) and East Asian popular culture promoting softer forms of masculinity, we expected appearance rigidity to be greater in the United States than in Hong Kong. Indeed, although appearance rigidity was observed among children in Hong Kong, U.S. boys exhibited greater appearance rigidity than did boys in Hong Kong. Study 3 examined whether these differences among boys were represented in broader society through media representations. Coding various popular Hong Kong and American magazines revealed that men in Hong Kong magazines were depicted with more female-typed appearances than were men in U.S. magazines. Our work suggests that although appearances are important manifestations of gender identity across both American and East Asian cultures, certain cultural contexts might allow children more freedom in expressing their gender identity through appearances.