A new study in the journal Sex Roles has demonstrated that very young girls believe that they are supposed to look sexy.
Researchers at Knox College showed 60 girls between the ages of 6 and 9 years two dolls, one dressed in tight, revealing clothes and the other dressed in stylish clothes that covered her. They then asked the girls a series of questions, such as which of the two dolls they would wish to look like and which would be more popular in school. They found that 68 percent of the girls wanted to look like the sexy doll and 72 percent thought she would be the more popular of the two.
They found that girls who played sports were less likely to choose the ‘sexy’ doll, as were girls who had mother figures at home who provided “instruction during media viewing” (those mothers who teach their daughters media literacy).
The conclusions of this study could become an excellent tool in helping parents fight back against the hyper-sexualization of young girls – Enroll your daughters in sports, boost their confidence, teach them media literacy and critical thinking. Maybe then we’ll have more girls growing up to fight back against media that is trying to sell them an image.
Of course, if society is really uncomfortable with the over-sexualization of little girls, perhaps we could look at some real changes to what’s being marketed for these age groups. There is no reason to be designing and selling high heels for little girls.
Even if parents try to let kids be kids, little girls are still getting the message that they need to be grown up and sexy at earlier and earlier ages.
Photo Credit: Courtney Carmody
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