Monday, November 21, 2011

The Sexualization of Girls

This report from the American Psychological Association is a must read.
Mental and physical health

Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression or depressed mood (Abramson & Valene, 1991; Durkin & Paxton, 2002; Harrison, 2000; Hofschire & Greenberg, 2001; Mills, Polivy, Herman & Tiggemann, 2002; Stice, Schupak-Neuberg, Shaw & Stein, 1994; Thomsen, Weber & Brown, 2002; Ward, 2004). Several studies (on both teenage and adult women) have found associations between exposure to narrow representations of female beauty (e.g., the “thin ideal”) and disordered eating attitudes and symptoms.

Research also links exposure to sexualized female ideals with lower self-esteem, negative mood and depressive symptoms among adolescent girls and women. In addition to mental health consequences of sexualization, research suggests that girls’ and women’s physical health may also be negatively affected, albeit indirectly....

Impact on others and on society

The sexualization of girls can also have a negative impact on other groups (i.e., boys, men, and adult women) and on society more broadly. Exposure to narrow ideals of female sexual attractiveness may make it difficult for some men to find an “acceptable” partner or to fully enjoy intimacy with a female partner (e.g., Schooler & Ward, 2006).

Adult women may suffer by trying to conform to a younger and younger standard of ideal female beauty. More general societal effects may include an increase in sexism; fewer girls pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); increased rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence; and an increased demand for child pornography. (Read entire report.)


Julygirl said...

In a current Vogue magazine article Academy Award winning actress and international beauty, Charlize Theron, said this is the first time since she was 19 years old that she has not been in a relationship and has found her 'comfort zone' being single.

tubbs said...

IF I may be so bold as to comment here - May I make an observation? I think so much of this sickness started in '59, with the invention of the Barbie Doll.

elena maria vidal said...

Good point. That and Playboy Magazine coming out and the Code being thrown out by Hollywood, followed by Vatican 2. How have we survived, Tubbs?